Recycling biz rising

  • Dennis Fujimoto / The Garden Island

    James Higginbotham of Kauai Community Recycling Service processes recycler Randy Menor’s load Wednesday at the facility in the Arzadon Industrial Park in Kapaa.

  • Dennis Fujimoto / The Garden Island

    James Higginbotham of Kauai Community Recycling Service prepares to process part of recycler Randy Menor’s load Wednesday at the Kapaa facility. In the background, a forklift waits to load crushed aluminum can cubes for shipping.

  • Dennis Fujimoto / The Garden Island

    Patrick Lemz and James Higginbotham help recycler Randy Menor with his load Wednesday at the Kauai Community Recycling Service facility in Kapaa.

  • Dennis Fujimoto / The Garden Island

    Patrick Lemz and Paul Ruff of the Kauai Community Recycling Service load up a storage bag of aluminum cans at the Kapaa facility. In the background is the compressor that smashes the aluminum cans into 750-pound cubes.

  • Dennis Fujimoto / The Garden Island

    James Higginbotham of Kauai Community Recycling Service processes recycler Randy Menor’s load Wednesday at the facility located in the Arzadon Industrial Park in Kapaa.

  • Dennis Fujimoto / The Garden Island

    Patrick Lemz watches and Paul Ruff finalizes a customer’s order while James Higginbotham tosses a storage bag of small plastics for further processing Wednesday at the Kauai Community Recycling Service facility in the Arzadon Industrial Park in Kapaa.

KAPAA — James Higginbotham has been operating Kauai Community Recycling Service for 17 years, the last 10 at 962 Kipuni Way in the Arzadon Industrial Center next to Gather Federal Credit Union.

So it pains him to see more people driving their HI5 recyclables to Lihue since Reynold’s Recycling closed its Kapahi HI5 Redemption Center on Kawaihau Road in late December.

“We have seen a lot of their customers passing through,” he said.

But there’s no need to make that drive with all those cans and bottles.

KCRS has long accepted aluminum, glass and plastic containers that are worth a nickel each to return.

It has seen about a 15% increase in recyclables in recent years, and last year refunded $1.2 million to the public through the redemption program.

In 2019 alone, it took in more than 25 million containers.

“We’ve never had a down year,” Higginbotham said. “We see an increase every year.”

The aluminum goes to Anneuser-Busch on Oahu, while plastics go to Garden Isle Disposal. The glass makes its way to Seattle. All are put back in the system, reducing waste from the landfill, too, he said.

He credits the uptick to a younger generation that is paying attention and wants to protect the environment. Recycling is an effective way to do that.

“I think the kids are getting involved,” he said.

But their recycling choices went down one Dec. 28, when Reynold’s Recycling closed its Kapahi HI5 Redemption Center.

The company is working to reopen a site in the Kapahi area, however, an exact date is to be determined, said Terry Telfer, president of Reynold’s Recycling.

Reynold’s other HI5 Redemption Center in Lihue at 3460 Ahukini Road at the Kauai Resource Center and Lihue Transfer Station will continue to operate every day except Wednesdays and Sundays from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m., and is closed for lunch from noon to 1:30 p.m.

Higginbotham said he wants to be sure the public knows that KCRS is up and running as usual, at the same location for the past decade. It has seen an increase since Reynold’s closed its Kapahi site, but he said they could certainly handle more and would love to help more customers receive money for recycling the HI5 containers that cost them 6 cents each at the store.

Since January 2005, Hawaii’s Deposit Beverage Container program has assisted residents to recycle over 7 billion containers.

‘It’s keeping it out of the landfill,” he said.

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