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Pay as you throw passes

LIHUE — The Kauai County Council approved on Wednesday the state’s first variable rate structure aimed at encouraging waste diversion by charging property owners waste collection fees based on how much they throw away. 

Monthly fees will correspond to the size of trash carts that residents choose to use, according to the approved changes in county laws.

“I think it really offers the community great possibilities for the future,” Councilman Gary Hooser said. “I believe the majority of people in our county want to move forward.” 

The measure, which was passed by a 5-1 vote, will charge residential customers a monthly, flat $6 fee for access to the county’s five refuse transfer stations and an additional $4 fee, if residents opt to have a 64-gallon trash cart, or two 32-gallon carts, for weekly pick up. 

Households who opt to use the 96-gallon carts, or three 32-gallon carts, that are now available, meanwhile, would be charged the flat $6 fee along with an additional $12 fee — a monthly $6 increase from the amount residents pay now. 

“I believe this bill is an important step forward for a more sustainable Kauai,” Councilwoman JoAnn Yukimura said. “It will improve incentives for recycling and create the kind of change that we need in order to have a sustainable community.” 

Councilman Mel Rapozo, who cast the lone dissenting vote against the new refuse collection fee structure, said the changes are not happening in step with a program to help those residents who want to recycle more.

“Pay as you throw is a component of a much bigger system called curbside recycling,” Rapozo said. “We’re trying to do things piecemeal and I don’t think that’s the proper way — the end result is that people will be paying more for their trash. Some will go with a smaller can, but I just cannot support any more increases in fees.” 

Councilman Ross Kagawa was not present when the bill was considered and did not vote on it.

County Engineer Larry Dill said the new fee structure will generate about $3 million in revenue that will be used “to help us offset anticipated increases in the use of waste diversion programs.” The previous fee structure, by comparison, generated about $2.74 million.

Kilauea resident Tek Nickerson, in an email to the County Council, said he supported the proposal and asked the seven-member board to “consider amending it at some appropriate time to reflect a further $2 decrease to $8 per month for those who only fill a 32-gallon container.”

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