Letter for Wednesday, July 14, 2021

Enough studies, solve solid-waste crisis now

Kaua‘i Solid Waste, thank you for giving Kaua‘i citizens the opportunity to express our thoughts about the draft Integrated Solid Waste Management Plan (ISWMP), the state of solid waste on Kaua‘i and what we believe should be included in the plan and happening here.

In 2011 the updated ISWMP included a material-recovery facility and curbside recycling, but neither was implemented. In 2016, the waste characterization of the Kekaha Landfill showed that 80-90% of materials in the landfill could have been diverted.

In spite of knowing that the landfill had only a few more years at the rate it was being filled, the county councils and mayors over those years reduced the Solid Waste Division staff, including engineers, and put off doing anything constructive to deal with solid waste.

Judging by the 2021 draft ISWMP, the current planners are continuing in their predecessors’ footsteps and deciding once more to STUDY possible actions. Possible actions have been studied to death. The time to act is NOW!

Curbside recycling, a material-recovery facility (MRF), municipal composting, reuse of construction and demolition debris and sufficient qualified staff to achieve those actions must start now in order to extend the life of the landfill and start Kaua‘i on the road to true sustainability.

On top of Kaua‘i’s solid-waste crisis, the state of Hawai‘i has recognized that we are in a climate emergency. For everything the county contemplates doing, we must also be sure it does not produce more greenhouse gases.

To that end, organics may not be buried in the landfill, where in the anaerobic environment they release methane. Organics must be used to produce compost, which can then be spread over fields and rangeland to sequester not only the carbon in the compost, but also pull it from the air and take it deep into the roots. Kaua‘i has plenty of open fields and rangeland where this can and should be done.

With KIUC developing more alternative sources of electricity, especially hydropower, there is no excuse for even considering burning waste. No matter what modern technology is used it is still burning, resulting in greenhouse gases and toxins and leachate.

In the years since 2011, the county councils and mayors have put off until tomorrow dealing with solid waste. TOMORROW HAS ARRIVED! We know that where there is a will, there is a way. This mayor and County Council can find sufficient funds, whether from the previous year’s unspent money or elsewhere, to stop wasting time studying what has already been studied, and to get started on actually solving Kaua‘i’s solid-waste crisis now!

Ruta Jordans, Wailua Homesteads

12 Comments
  1. RGLadder37 July 14, 2021 12:13 am Reply

    I have already mentioned it. Burning the solid waste is the only solution. Ashes. You and others there will have to tolerate the smoke though. But this definitely does the trick to landfill being diminished.


  2. Patrick Flores July 14, 2021 4:33 am Reply

    Ruta Jordan, you make a very valid point, County Government continues to live in a bubble. What a shame that they are content to ignore the needs of the citizens while pointing to the evils of tourism. Where is the accountability and responsibility?
    Patrick H Flores, Boise, Idaho


    1. Reality Bites July 16, 2021 2:42 pm Reply

      “Evils of Tourism”???? Um, Professor, Hawaii ONLY has one industry…..ahhh, Tourism. We are in the middle of the Pacific Ocean on an island. We produce NOTHING. The plantation days are long gone. We produce beaches, sun, and surf….that is all!


  3. kauaidoug July 14, 2021 7:25 am Reply

    When I moved here 15 years ago from California I was shocked to see no curbside recycling here. You would think with the closed system of an island aggressive recycling would be a no brainer.


    1. Reality Bites July 16, 2021 2:45 pm Reply

      Um, recycling isn’t gonna work in the middle of the Pacific Ocean….on an island. “Reuse” is the only option…..unless you want to pay more to recycle than to take to the West Side Landfill. China stopped buying the USA’s recyclables. It is not profitable.


  4. John Patt July 14, 2021 7:35 am Reply

    Thank you, Ruta. We need to plan now for how we are going to deal with solid waste over the next several decades. Curbside recycling has been proven again and again to be the most effective means of dealing with our opala.


  5. John Patt July 14, 2021 7:39 am Reply

    The tourism industry needs to take a stand on solid waste. Tourism generates its share of opala, and cannot justify standing on the sidelines.


  6. Doug July 14, 2021 9:47 am Reply

    What about the hotels and the overwhelming number of tourists here generating garbage? What is the plan there? You can’t solve the issue with just a residential plan! And as to the climate emergency, the number of planes flying to Hawaii and the number of rental cars on the roads are destroying the climate faster than anything the residents are doing!


  7. RG DeSoto July 14, 2021 5:27 pm Reply

    Many years ago G&R, the sugar grower, did all of the work required (including actual burn tests) to convert its sugar mill into a waste to energy plant. All emissions, via scrubbers, met EPA standards. The only byproduct was ash. They were ready to essentially mitigate Kauai’s solid waste problem of landfills, which still loom to this day. So what happened?
    The county in it’s inimitable, greedy & shortsighted way would not approve the system…because they refused to give up their landfill tipping fees to a private company.
    Another reason that government and politicians are not to be trusted…no matter what clap-trap they spew.
    Disgraceful,
    RG DeSoto


    1. Reality Bites July 16, 2021 2:49 pm Reply

      Waste to energy is the only option in the middle of the Pacific Ocean. We are not going to load up the container ships and send the trash to China. Land on an island is finite….it is just a matter of time. Just another failure of government……”what is the easiest way to fix our problem with the West Side Landfill……oh, yea, let’s build another hole to mountain of trash. SMH.


  8. drsurf July 15, 2021 8:38 am Reply

    Let’s start by using less. Conserve. Conservation. Do you really need that new big screen tv?


  9. Rev Dr Malama July 16, 2021 11:02 am Reply

    All Corporations need to take responsibility for the ridiculous amount of plastic packaging INCOMING to our homes and communities.
    The STUDY IS ALREADY DONE AND SO IS THE DAMAGE!!!!
    THE ONLY SOLUTION IS TO PRACTICE CIRCULAR ECONOMY PROFILES SUCH AS THE GLOBAL NETWORK OF FOUNDATIONS ALREADY MAKING PROGRESS….
    The Chinese don’t want our garbage anymore so stop making it must start and end at the SOURCE!!!


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