Program may give landfill longer life

LIHU’E — Kaua’i County leaders say they have started yet another program aimed at lengthening the life of the island’s only landfill, that of placing wire-mesh bins at more than 60 county parks to collect recyclable aluminum, glass and plastic beverage containers.

The materials that are collected can be redeemed for cash through the state’s bottle-law-redemption program, Mayor Bryan J. Baptiste and Allison Fraley, the county’s recycling coordinator, told reporters during a recent news conference in the mayor’s office at the Lihu’e Civic Center.

The materials that are expected to be collected account for an estimated 40 percent to 60 percent of the litter at island parks, county officials said.

The program offers yet another way to divert debris that could go into the Kekaha Landfill, which has a life expectancy of five years.

Extending the life of the landfill will mean county leaders can put off having to spend millions to built a new facility when the old landfill fills up with garbage.

“We’re very excited about the parks recycling program because it encourages residents and visitors to recycle while they’re away from home,” Diane Rosenkranz, the county’s recycling specialist, said in a news release.

Some 450, forest-green, hoop-wire bins were constructed for the new program by members of the Kapaa Buddhist Hongwanji Association, who were awarded $6,000 through a competitive-grant program, Fraley said.

Another $10,831 was used to buy materials to fashion the 450 bins, and includes $4,665 for aluminum signs that were affixed to bins to tell folks the items to be recycled.

The project is the first of its kind for any county in Hawai’i, and the impetus for it came from Fraley.

“When I stated five years ago (with the county), I wanted recycling in the park,” she said.

The bin-construction project was carried out as fund-raiser by leaders of the Buddhist association, and county officials were delighted the project took only a week to complete, Rosen-kranz said.

About 350 bins were put at 67 county parks, and soon other county facilities like Vidinha Stadium, the Wailua Golf Course and neighborhood centers, will be fitted with the bins, officials said.

Another 100 bins have been put aside for use later, officials said.

The program started a month ago, and the response has been healthy, Rosenkranz noted.

“Part of our monitoring includes going to the parks and talking to people about the program,” she said. “They’ve told us that they’re very happy with it, and wish it had been done years ago.”

Rosenkranz pointed out that the parks recycling program is “a win-win situation” for residents and county officials, noting that recyclables in the hoop-wire bins are available to anyone on a first-come-first served basis.

She said the program requires little maintenance, and will cost a fraction of what a professionally-serviced program would cost.

The benefits from the program are three-fold, according to Mary Daubert, the county’s public information officer.

“They (residents who redeem the products they collect) can earn a little money, the parks stay more litter-free, and more debris is diverted from the landfill,” Daubert said.

Rosenkranz said challenges have arisen in spite of successes with the program so far.

“Even though the hoop-wire bins are located right next to trash cans, some people are not segregating recyclables from trash, so there’s been about 10 to 15 percent contamination in the recycling bins,” Rosenkranz said.

Workers in the county Department of Public Works Solid Waste Division manage a slew of recycling programs and projects, including the abandoned-vehicle program, the bottle-redemption program, the breakroom-recycling program, a recycling program for businesses, a green-waste recycling program, a home-composting program, a household-hazardous-waste program, the Kaua’i Recycles program, a plastic-recycling grant program, a public-outreach and education program, the Puhi Metals Recycling Center, a recycled-glass manufacturing operation, the school education program, the state’s advanced disposal fee program, a used-motor-oil-recycling program, and a volunteer and intern program related to recycling.

For more information about recycling on the island, contact Fraley or Rosenkranz in the Kaua’i County Recycling Office at 241-5112 or 241-6891, or visit the county’s Web site at www.kauai.gov.

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