LIHU‘E — The latest draft of the county’s Integrated Solid Waste Management Plan, which outlines goals and objectives for one of the county’s most pressing issues of waste disposal, is now up for public review.
The county’s on the hook to revise the plan every decade. The 2021 County of Kaua‘i ISWMP fourth draft uses data from fiscal year 2019 as its baseline for the next 10 years.
“The document contains a lot of important information in the opinion of the Solid Waste Division,” county Department of Public Works Solid Waste Programs Coordinator Allison Fraley said. “It describes all current solid-waste management and diversion programs and provides recommended enhancement opportunities for these programs.”
Fraley, who also acts as the project manager for the Integrated Solid Waste Management Plan Update, said the final plan is projected to be presented to the Kaua‘i County Council in late summer.
The current plan was adopted in 2009 and, since then, the county has adopted automated-refuse collection on most parts of the island, a flat fee for refuse service, a pay-as-you-throw program, commercial landfill restrictions and a plastic-bag-ban law.
The draft notes that funding was an issue, and recommended actions like a centralized compost facility, material recovery facility and curbside green waste and recycle programs were not implemented.
The fourth draft prioritizes continuing and expanding existing programs and working groups and recommending evaluation of program enhancements, including feasibility studies and identifying funding sources for curbside recycling and material recovery facility.
“We are glad to see the issues of recyclables, curbside recycling and the Material Recovery Facility (MRF); as well as organics and composting; and support for source reduction; and other forms of diversion from the landfill, addressed in the plan,” Ruta Jordans of Zero Waste Kaua‘i said.
However, the group sees an issue with another feasibility study and siting for a new material-recovery facility and a waste-to-energy study included in the county’s yet-to-be-approved fiscal year 2022 budget, which begins July 1, 2021, for $300,000.
“We know how important it is right now to divert as much as possible from the landfill,” Jordans said. “Between diverting recyclables and organics, we could be reducing the amount going to the landfill by about 66% (based on the 2016 waste characterization). If we had alternative uses for construction and demolition debris it would be close to another 30%. Unfortunately, there is no cost or actual implementation attached to C&D in the plan.”
As of January 2021, the Kekaha Landfill is estimated to have less than 10 years of remaining capacity if a planned vertical expansion is wrapped up. However, more uses of waste reduction and diversion programs will help, according to the draft that came out last week.
“The No. 1 goal of the Kaua‘i General Plan is to become a ‘sustainable island,’” said former mayor and councilmember JoAnn Yukimura of Zero Waste Kaua‘i. “Thus, the ISWMP must be a sustainable plan, which means it must provide a road map for creating a sustainable solid-waste system in the next 10 years.”
For that, Yukimura said, the county should enlist a more circular reduce, reuse, repair, recycle system.
“This means that we must take items we now call trash that are presently filling up our landfill and turn them into re-usable or reconstituted products. In other words, trash is no longer trash, but a resource,” Yukimura said.
Adopting a curbside recycling and materials recovery facility could take some of the load off the landfill by diverting waste to areas where items like glass, paper, cardboard or metals could be cleaned and sold back to manufacturers, she said.
“All told, we could remove about 75% of the trash now going into the landfill,” Yukimura said. “That will almost double the life of the landfill. So instead of six years left, we might conservatively have 10 years left on the landfill.”
The draft is open for 60 days of public review, which ends July 19, and can be found at kauai.gov/iswmp. Comments may be directed to email@example.com. A virtual public hearing will be held June 17, at a time to be determined.
Sabrina Bodon, public safety and government reporter, can be reached at 245-0441 or firstname.lastname@example.org.