Maui recyclers making an impact on Kaua‘i

LIHU‘E — Over the past six years, about 100 tons of debris have been diverted from Maui County’s waste stream, thanks to a unique “recycling” program initiated by Maui Recycling Group.

In turn, appliances, furniture, clothing and other “reusable goods” were recirculated back into the island community, and the life span of refuse facilities there has been extended, saving millions not having to build new county dump facilities.

On a visit to Kaua‘i Wednesday, Wilma Nakamura, executive director of Maui Recycling, met with representatives from eight Kaua‘i organizations and Alexander & Baldwin Properties at the Kauai Resource Center by the Lihu‘e Airport to move along the same program here.

The gathering offered a way for members of Kaua‘i businesses and organizations to become acquainted with the program, and to get groups and businesses to begin to work together so that the project can be successful, Nakamura said.

Through the program, businesses donate still-useable goods to community organizations, which in turn distribute them throughout the community.

On Kaua‘i, implementation of the program could help extend the life of the Kekaha Landfill.

Maui Recycling officials secured an $8,000 grant from Kaua‘i County for the program, which is a key part of a major push by Kaua‘i County leaders to divert waste from the island’s only landfill, said Allison Fraley, the recycling coordinator for Kaua‘i County.

In Maui County, proponents of the Maui Recycling Group have served as a link between leaders of Maui businesses or organizations who want to donate still-usable goods to nonprofit groups and churches.

For the Kaua‘i program, proponents of the Maui group would keep a data base of Kaua‘i businesses and organizations and nonprofit groups, and link up both parties when a donation of goods can be made, Nakamura said. She would e-mail the parties when goods become available.

That is the kind of program that will benefit her group, said Brenda Crago, an administrative assistant with Olelo Christian Academy located at the Lihue Baptist Church site.

“We are a start-up academy, and there is a need for chairs, desks, school equipment and computers people don’t want to use anymore,” Crago said.

Scott Giarman, executive director of the Kauai United Way, said his organization for years has had access to goods that have been distributed to 25 organizations and agencies that have worked with United Way.

The efforts of United Way in this regard have been successful, and the Maui Recycling Group offers the chance for United Way and the Maui group to reach even more businesses and organizations, he said.

“United Way has uniformly done this for a long time. I have worked with 25 agencies, and I will be working with Wilma,” Giarman said. “We want to hand it over to them.”

Giarman said he was optimistic about the chances for success of the new program. “There is something to be said for critical mass,” he said. “With more people knowing about the availability of the resources, more people will donate, and more people will be receiving.” Recycling efforts on Kaua‘i usually mean baling goods, shipping the goods to off-island markets, and spending energy and resources to convert the goods into something that can be used again, Fraley said.

For more information about the Maui Recycling Group, please call Nakamura toll-free at 1-866-542-2232 or go to Nakamura’s e-mail is

Lester Chang, staff writer, may be reached at 245-3681 (ext. 225) or


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