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The Honolulu Advertiser
Posted on: Thursday, July 31, 2003


Disposing of old cell phones

By Gordon Y.K. Pang
Advertiser Staff Writer

Q. My husband and I recently got new cellular phones and want to dispose of our old ones, preferably by giving them to someone who will recycle them. Is there someone who will?

A. City Recycling Coordinator Suzanne Jones said her best advice is to return your old cell phones to the companies who are servicing you. While there is no law or obligation requiring them to recycle the used phones, Jones said she expects many of them will take them back as a public service.

AT&T Wireless, for instance, accepts used cell phones and batteries for disposal purposes regardless of whether they are AT&T products.

Jones said that it is important to properly dispose of cell phones because they use rechargeable batteries made from environmentally unfriendly nickel and cadmium.

The city has been working to bring a national collection system program here that helps retailers recycle batteries at no cost to them and hopes to come to an agreement soon.

Q. My neighbors have built an illegal shed next to their illegal building. Tenants have made a surfboard shop and use resin that has awful fumes. Which department or office do I call about this air pollution? I run a plant nursery and it's just horrible. I've been to the doctor with headaches because of this air pollution.

A. You need answers from two jurisdictions.

First, the city Department of Planning and Permitting will need to send out an inspector to determine if it is a commercial entity, and then if there is a zoning violation, according to city spokeswoman Carol Costa. The customer service office for the department is 523-4531.

The Health Department has no regulations specifically tied to resin fumes or odors. However, it will send out an inspector to look for possible violations related to the activity of surfboard shaping. Specifically, fiberglass sanding is not supposed to take place outdoors and there are also regulations regarding fugitive dust.

Q. Do property owners have the right to block off the space in front of their yard so that neighbors can't park cars that they have no room for on their own property?

A. No, not if you're talking about the public sidewalk area. The Department of Planning and Permitting (523-4531) can issue a notice of violation to correct the problem. You can also call 911 and have police issue a ticket.

If you have questions involving bureaucratic red tape, you can reach The Bureaucracy Buster one of three ways:

• Write to:

The Bureaucracy Buster,
The Honolulu Advertiser,
605 Kapi'olani Boulevard,
Honolulu, HI 96813.

• e-mail: buster@honoluluadvertiser.com

• Phone: 535-2454 and leave a message.

Be sure to give us your name and daytime telephone number in case we need more information.