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The Honolulu Advertiser
Posted on: Wednesday, April 19, 2006

Green-waste recycling problem solved, officials say

By Loren Moreno
Advertiser Staff Writer

City officials say they have corrected a problem with separating green waste from other solid waste that has prevented all of O'ahu's green waste from being recycled.

A space problem at Ke'ehi Transfer Station which serves residents between Salt Lake and Hawai'i Kai left city refuse workers unable to separate green waste from ordinary rubbish.

"We didn't have the room there to segregate out the green waste, so it was getting mixed in with the other trash and taken to H-Power. But that was only for a small portion of the island because not all the island's trash and/or green waste goes to Ke'ehi Transfer Station," said Bill Brennan, spokesman for Mayor Mufi Hannemann.

Brennan said 65 percent to 70 percent of the island's green waste was still being recycled during the year the problem gradually got worse.

The city responded to the problem after Councilman Charles Djou reported research his office staff did last week that found there has been a 35 percent decline in green waste recycling since 2004. He said the city needs to be doing more recycling, not less.

Brennan said more space was freed up at Ke'ehi Transfer Station to allow for green and other solid waste to be separated.

Djou said he is disappointed that residents have been separating their green waste from their trash only to have both types of refuse treated the same.

"When it gets to the garbage transfer station, the green waste and the regular trash go into the exact same place," Djou said. "This is disturbing because the average consumer is being deceived that the city is recycling the green waste when we are not," he said.

Brennan said he could not confirm Djou's numbers yesterday but he said the amount of green waste picked up through the city's blue bin program continues to increase.

Even after officials corrected the problem at Ke'ehi Transfer Station, Djou said, the city still needs to embark on a comprehensive, islandwide recycling program.

"I'd like to see the administration do a heck of a lot more, but the fact that we can't even do green waste recycling right is very disturbing," he said.

Reach Loren Moreno at lmoreno@honoluluadvertiser.com.