LIHUE — Four sites that accept deposit beverage containers could be closed for as long as several months until the county can solicit a vendor to operate its facility that processes recyclables.
“We understand that the closure and limited services at the Kauai Resource Center has affected some and will affect more residents and businesses on Kauai,” said Acting County Engineer Lyle Tabata in a release Friday. “We are working quickly to implement solutions to meet the needs of recyclers on the island. We ask for your continued patience as we move forward with these solutions.”
Kauai Community Recycling Services LLC closed its locations in Kilauea, Kapaa, Koloa and Kekaha on Friday, as the county was unable to solicit a vendor to operate a HI5 redemption center at the Kauai Resource Center in Ahukini.
Additionally, the resource center will no longer be accepting non-HI5 recyclables as the county’s contract for services at the facility has been terminated with Kauai Community Recycling Service, Inc — a different entity from KCRS LLC.
Prior to contracting KCRS, Inc in Dec. 12, the resource center was operated by Garden Isle Disposal.
“Shortly after entering into the contract, a dispute arose between the parties regarding the scope of services required by the concession contract,” said county Capital Improvement Projects Program Manager Keith Suga. “The county and the vendor worked together amicably to resolve the matter so as to limit the impacts on recycling services to the general public.”
Chris Loiseau, owner of KCRS, Inc, did not return requests for comment.
Suga said the county and KCRS, Inc. believe that settling the dispute was in the best interest of the parties and the public in general.
“It does affect a ton of people on our end. I’m going to have a lot of upset customers. We’re normally open seven days a week,” said James Higginbotham, owner of Kauai Community Recycling Service LLC. “Once there’s nobody operating the resource center, that’s the place I take all the material I collect from the public to get processed and shipped off island and recycled.”
KCRS LLC refunded $975,000 to customers on Kauai last year.
“We do the most HI5 redemption on the island. We do about 60 percent,” he said. “I recycle over 20 million containers a year.”
A 40-yard container, he said, fills about 44,000 pounds of material.
“I’m definitely not a happy camper. My guys live paycheck to paycheck. When I have to shut down, that affects them in a serious way,” he said. “I have 10 employees, and I have been doing this for 15 years and I’ve never had to shut down until this whole debacle.”
Garden Isle Disposal is the proposed vendor for the Kauai Resource Center.
“Garden Isle Disposal is the only company on Kaua‘i that is permitted by the state Department of Health to accept load types and volumes of recyclables with no limits, therefore there is no competition at this time,” according to a notice posted by the county Friday.
Representatives with Garden Isle Disposal declined comment.
“Garden Isle Disposal, Inc. is listed on this request for procurement exemption because they are the only company on island that has a Solid Waste Recycling Processing Facility permitted by the Hawaii State Department of Health to accept load types and volumes of commercial recyclables with no limits,” Suga said.
He added: “The county chose this course of action because it was unable to resolve the contractual dispute between itself and KCRS, Inc. in a way that would have allowed KCRS, Inc. to continue to operate at the level that the County required in order to fully serve the people of Kauai.”
The county is rerouting the public to Reynold’s Recycling locations in Nawiliwili and Kapahi to redeem their HI5 beverage containers.
It’s an alternative Higginbotham said will further frustrate customers.
“Those lines are going to be becoming extremely long because they have to drive halfway across the island to redeem their HI5 material,” he said. “The county should make it easier, accessible and convenient to get their money back.”
Battery recycling and free composting bins are still available at the Kauai Resource Center during the temporary closure, as the county Department of Public Works Solid Waste Division staff with offices at the facility will be on hand.
They will also be prepared to answer questions and direct people to alternate recycling locations.
Residentially generated recyclables like cardboard, glass, plastic, mixed paper (including junk mail), and aluminum cans can be taken to the Kauai Recycles bins at the back parking lot of Big Kmart.
Owners of businesses generating recyclables they’ve been hauling to the resource center should call the county recycling office at 241-4841 for information.
TGI reporter Jenna Carpenter contributed to this story.