Green waste ends up in landfill after all

Some 20,000 pounds of compostable waste was separated from a total of 28,000 pounds of garbage generated at the Taste of Hawai‘i event June 1 at Smith’s Tropical Paradise in Wailua.

But due to miscommunication between a dispatcher and the driver of the garbage truck, the compostables were taken to the landfill instead of the intended compost pile at Kaua‘i Nursery and Landscaping.

Zero Waste Kaua‘i, a grassroots organization that advocates recycling, had secured a permit to compost the food waste from the event for the first time ever on Kaua‘i.

As part of a pilot project, the food waste from the event was to be taken to the nursery, the main green waste recycler on island, to be composted.

Once composted, samples were to be taken from the grid for chemical analysis.

Despite the mistake, Zero Waste volunteers feel they proved high rates of diversion can be achieved.

“Our triumph here was establishing the process to carry out the resource stream diversion,” said John Harder, a solid waste expert working with Zero Waste Kaua‘i. “For a first-time event with a staff of novices, it just shows what is possible if you put your mind to it.”

Zero Waste Kaua‘i will have another chance to work on the food waste project at the Kaua‘i Island Utility Cooperative annual membership meeting June 21.

“We’re excited we proved it possible and have another possibility to analyze food waste,” said Jennifer Sifuentes of Aloha, We Deliver! and Zero Waste Kaua‘i. “We feel confident now that the groundwork has been laid and we have demonstrated that it absolutely can be done. We will build upon lessons learned from this (Taste of Hawai‘i) event and future events will show results of 75 to 85 percent diversion from the landfill.”

Though the compostables ended up in the wrong place, more than 650 pounds of recyclables went to JC Sandblasting.

Approximately 900 pounds of cardboard were recycled and more than 400 pounds of used cooking oil was collected to become biodiesel at Kaua‘i Farm Fuels.

For more information, visit www.zerowastekauai.org.

• Rachel Gehrlein, staff writer, can be reached at 245-3681 (ext. 225) or rgehrlein@kauaipubco.com.

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