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The Honolulu Advertiser
Posted on: Wednesday, February 15, 2006

Time to speak up on curbside recycling

Today the voters worried about the mounting piles of rubbish rapidly filling our landfills should take an opportunity to give curbside recycling a push at City Hall.

It won't be their last chance: The council is likely to hold a full-scale public hearing on the issue within the next week or so.

But it appears that this measure needs every bit of high-octane fuel that can be mustered to blast it past the wall of inertia that typically rises around any radical departure from the status quo. In particular, nobody likes to change the way they keep house and that's what curbside recycling would do, individually and collectively.

In addition to the change in habit, with all of us sorting our castoffs instead of simply casting them off, there is the issue of cost. Would it cost as much as the city administration says, or would it actually generate revenue for the city, as one of the companies bidding on the abandoned curbside project has said?

As much as task forces are the bane of government service, perhaps the group of experts that Councilman Rod Tam wants to set up is a necessary evil.

Let's hope that such a group would deliver the expertise this issue requires, and not represent entities serving their own interests.

Similarly, the changes proposed by the Sierra Club, to clarify the kind of recyclables to be accepted, make sense.

The city should proceed with its plan to recycle green waste, which should at least help stem the tide of rubbish flowing into the municipal dumps. That program could be a winner on multiple levels, also propelling an industry producing garden products and improving O'ahu soil in the process.

But it really should be viewed as a companion to other curbside recycling, not its replacement.

Whether or not the city can realistically have the program in place by January is up for discussion. But the basic resolution to adopt full-scale recycling should be a done deal.