Recycling options mean more diversions from the mountainous Kekaha Landfill

LIHU’E – From educating the next generation of recyclers to handing out vehicle oil-change kits and backyard composting kits to encouraging more residential and commercial recycling simply by having a place where many recyclable items can be dropped off, the new Kauai Resource Center is helping extend the life of the Kekaha Landfill by diverting tons of materials formerly destined for the Westside.

Or is it?

The facts are that Island Recycling, the contractor selected to run the county resource center, in June shipped off the island 43,000 pounds of corrugated cardboard, 900 pounds of white ledger paper, a ton of magazines, 30,000 pounds of aluminum cans, 81,300 tires, and 36,500 wooden pallets, representing amounts collected between the mid-April opening of the center and the June shipment date.

Though the amounts collected through the Kauai Recycles residential recycling program, with bins from Waimea to Princeville, have been decreasing on a monthly basis since the April opening of the Kauai Resource Center, the total tonnage collected through that residential recycling program between April and July this year still represents more material diverted from the landfill than during the same period last year.

A spokesman for Garden Isle Disposal, the contractor of the county’s residential recycling program, Kauai Recycles, said the increased tonnage collected doesn’t necessarily mean more diversion from the landfill, only that the amount collected is now spread between two contractors.

But back to the Kauai Resource Center.

“We’re doing a good thing down there,” said Mayor Maryanne Kusaka, who during her current term of office once said that recycling is simply a “feel-good” activity that will never be profitable on this island.

Still, she has managed to embrace the concept that the community can actually prolong the life of the island’s only landfill by practicing recycling.

Speaking before the Lihue Business Association recently, she had high praise for both the center and Allison Fraley, the county’s first-ever recycling coordinator.

The county’s summer enrichment program, for children ages six to 11, had a recycling component in its educational mission this year, with several enrichment sites installing permanent composting bins after touring the center and learning about recycling and composting, Fraley said.

Backyard recyclers quickly gobbled up the county’s supply of 670 free composting bins, after sitting through 20-minute composting classes, signing registration forms and agreeing to take part in surveys designed to gauge program effectiveness, Fraley said.

There is a waiting list for the next batch of bins, she added.

County recycling officials plan on giving out free oil-change kits for motor vehicles at the Farm Bureau Fair beginning next weekend, if any are left by then, she said.

The kits hold six quarts of oil, and the kits with used oil are accepted for recycling at the landfill and transfer stations at Princeville, Kapa’a, Lihu’e and Hanapepe. The county has 800 kits to give away, said Fraley.

Those receiving kits must sign forms pledging they’ll use the kits to change the oil on their vehicles, and recycle the oil, she said.

The county’s portion of the recycling program has enjoyed volunteer help, but Fraley is always on the lookout for more volunteers, she said.

The center is open 8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Monday through Friday, and some Saturday hours as well.

The recycling program is operated by Island Recycling, 245-4700. For more information, please call the county recycling office, 241-6891.

Island Recycling is open Tuesday through Saturday, 8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Unsupervised free public drop-off is also available each Monday from 8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m., for all materials except tires. Also, on unsupervised Mondays, there is no cash paid for aluminum cans.

The Kauai Resource Center is at 3460 Ahukini Rd., between Lihue Airport and the Lihu’e transfer station.

Staff Writer Paul C. Curtis can be reached at mailto:pcurtis@pulitzer.net or 245-3681 (ext. 224).

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