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The Honolulu Advertiser
Posted on: Thursday, February 23, 2006

Curbside recycling set for final vote by council

By Robbie Dingeman
Advertiser Staff Writer

The Honolulu City Council is poised to pressure the city to establish an islandwide curbside recycling program beginning next year despite objections from the administration that such a program isn't cost-effective.

The Public Works and Economic Development Committee yesterday approved a bill that pushes Mayor Mufi Hannemann's administration to move faster on gathering newspapers, bottles, cans and even food waste curbside. The measure is scheduled for a final vote at today's special council meeting at Honolulu Hale.

City Environmental Services Director Eric Takamura said the Hannemann administration opposes the measure.

He said officials looked closely at curbside before deciding to emphasize expanded pickup of green waste such as yard clippings rather than focus on papers and containers.

At first, "we thought mixed recyclables were the way to go," Takamura said. But based on the Mililani pilot project that was created under former Mayor Jeremy Harris, Takamura said it doesn't make economic sense to spend the money to collect a fraction of the waste that is generated each year on O'ahu.

Takamura said it appeared that the city would spend $8 million a year to pick up curbside containers, but remove only 20,000 tons from the flow of 600,000 tons of rubbish generated on O'ahu each year and sent to the city's garbage-to-energy plant or landfill.

Committee Chairman Rod Tam said consumer education is needed for the success of any voluntary program and involving children in that effort is crucial for most families.

"We're all sort of brainwashed by kids," Tam said.

Sierra Club supporter Betty Gearen testified in support of the bill.

"If you bring curbside to their door, they will do it," she said.

Council Budget Chairwoman Ann Kobayashi said the potential for curbside recycling success shouldn't be judged solely by the Mililani program.

"It was a real embarrassment to our community," she said.

Takamura earlier said he would urge Hannemann to veto the bill because the timetable and cost are unrealistic.

City Councilman Charles Djou, who introduced the bill, said the measure would reverse Hannemann's decision in October to cancel curbside recycling.

"Curbside recycling is not only the right thing to do, but because of the city's problems with finding a new landfill site, it is absolutely essential," Djou said.

Reach Robbie Dingeman at rdingeman@honoluluadvertiser.com.