VOICES: Offering ideas for updated solid-waste plan

Thanks for receiving these comments on the 2021 ISWMP.

I hope that the public input on this issue is significant and meaningful.

The trash that we collectively generate is more than just garbage. It is evidence of our impact on this small island. The consumption of resources on Kaua‘i to feed, clothe and house our residents generates tons of leftover plastic, food waste, construction-related debris and household refuse.

Our choices as consumers and as a community have profound impacts on our quality of life. From what we wear to what we drive and what we eat, we cannot escape the byproduct of life. For us living on a small island like Kaua‘i, we cannot throw things away without consequences.

Our island community is in need of alternatives to the current method of disposal, and I hope that a clear and coherent voice from our community speaks about aloha ‘aina and the kuleana we share in managing our resources, desirable or not.

It is my desire to see our county’s Solid Waste Division move forward with a renewed focus on diversion strategies (increased residential and commercial food-waste-composting programs, robust construction/demolition debris-recovery options, commercial/residential recycling collections, etc.) and an increased investment in the Solid Waste Division to improve performance, increase safety and morale for employees while increasing the county’s waste-management capacity and infrastructure.

As a member of the Solid Waste Advisory Committee for the previous ISWMP in 2007, I recall the process of reviewing the existing data from waste-stream analysis done with the consultants (RW Beck) and hosting public meetings to seek input from residents and stakeholders.

From this process, we encouraged the county to ramp up its diversion programs and get serious about extending the life of the Kekaha Landfill through aggressive diversion strategies like a ban on commercial green waste or cardboard and paper products

The previous plan made recommendations about a resource-recovery park along with residential curbside collection of recyclable materials (plastics, glass, metal, paper, etc.) and green waste. In addition, a potential waste-to-energy facility was proposed as well after much community discussion and discourse.

Over a decade has passed since the last update of the ISWMP, and some progress has been made. Kudos to Allison Fraley and the other county employees in solid waste for making things work and keeping the ‘opala from overflowing.

Implementing a plastic-bag ban in addition to the commercial restrictions of cardboard and paper products in the landfill has helped raise the diversion rates, but nothing like the green waste ban.

We would do well to re-establish aggressive diversion goals and look at increasing the rate of green-waste- and food-waste-diversion programs. Phased-in restrictions on food waste and green waste has the added value of extending the life of the landfill while reducing methane-gas generation from anaerobic organic materials landfilled in Kekaha.

Kaua‘i’s ability to combat climate change may be best addressed by a robust, community-based composting program. Composting on the Garden Island, whether it’s residential and on a small scale or it’s large scale and commercial, will provide numerous benefits for our planet’s inhabitants.

In closing, mahalo again for considering my comments and reading through the correspondence from concerned community members. I hope that the updated ISWMP will have:

• Clear and aggressive goals for increased diversion strategies (construction/demo debris, food waste, expanded curbside residential collection services);

• Increased funding for solid-waste-diversion programs;

• Plans for a resource-recovery park or materials-recovery facility to increase employment opportunities and maximize diversion opportunities;

• Ramped-up plans for reduced methane-gas generation and increased carbon sequestration through an aggressive, community-wide composting program

Thank you for your time and consideration.


James G. Trujillo is a resident of Kapa‘a.

  1. RGLadder37 July 22, 2021 12:58 am Reply

    If you want to solve the garbage problem on Kaua’i, throw all the garbage on a barge. And then dump the garbage on a remote island to burn it or let it rot. Many remote islands in the Pacific Ocean.

  2. John Patt July 22, 2021 9:56 am Reply

    Very good letter by Mr Trujillo. There is no choice. We are going to have to deal with our solid waste, or it will deal with us.

  3. Doug July 22, 2021 10:28 am Reply

    Does the updated ISWMP have anything in it regarding hotels? Because just including residential in the plan does not take into consideration the waste from visitors which (if you look at the number of them coming to the island is substantial). Excluding visitor waste from the plan will not solve the problem.

  4. Kauaidoug July 23, 2021 8:14 am Reply

    Think of how much garbage is generated by one commercial luau alone!!!

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