Let’s not fill the landfill

Today, the Resource Center near the Lihu‘e Airport will close its gates to recyclers until another contractor is found to operate the facility.

Island Recycling, a Honolulu-based company operating the Resource Center for the last three years, is being evicted by the county over a breach of contract.

That means the Resource Center will stand idle until a new contractor is found — a process that may take months.

Though the county claims there are still places on the island to take recyclables, the amount of phone calls and e-mails to The Garden Island indicate many are panicked about what to do. Some say they drop their recyclables at the eight county bins throughout the island, but often those drop spots are full to the rim and overflowing. If the bins are full, what are people to do? Imagine an island with more than 60,000 people on it that no longer has a place to put recyclables.

What is the alternative? That point was made not too long ago by a resident: “We live on an island, let’s do everything in our power to not fill up the landfill.” That resident vowed to do everything possible to recycle and re-use everything that it was in her power to do — to the point of carrying paper product in her luggage during Mainland trips to have it recycled. Let’s hope the county, residents and other recycling businesses on the island are willing to go to that extreme to preserve the nature of Kaua‘i.

That’s not to say Kaua‘i recycling companies are not doing their jobs, it just seems the petty squabbling resulting in the Resource Center eviction is not very conducive to the overall benefit in developing recycling systems and relationships on the island. Competition in business is understandable, but the lofty goals behind the idea of recycling should be a motivator as well, and especially here.

The Honolulu company evicted from the Resource Center was kicked out on a technicality brought to the attention of the county by Garden Isle Disposal owner Scott Kouchi.

Kouchi has said he is willing to help meet the island’s recycling needs. Let’s hope he stands behind his words to help ease the process of recycling.

Creating a culture of recycling is a process that takes time, not to mention the learning of developing technologies and systems for the collection of material. Often, for the consumer, if the process is frustrating, they will take the path of least resistance, and that path is often the trash cans on the curb or the landfill.

Now that the Resource Center will no longer be a redemption center it becomes that much more difficult to recycle on the island. Sure, the county says it will beef up its drop spots on the island and that there are other places to take recyclables, but the services that were provided at the resource center made the task a little easier. In the three years that Island Recycling had the contract to operate the facility, recycling on the island was brought to a more efficient level that included a place to take computer components and other products not accepted elsewhere.

Let’s urge the county to act quickly in finding another operator for the Resource Center.

And let’s hope that during the interim, until a new contractor is found for the Resource Center, business and the community puts in the extra effort to fill the void in services Island Recycling used to provide.

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