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The Honolulu Advertiser
Posted on: Sunday, March 12, 2006

Djou seeks earlier start for curbside recycling

By Robbie Dingeman
Advertiser Staff Writer

City Councilman Charles Djou is pushing the city to begin a comprehensive curbside recycling program sooner than the summer of 2007 even if it means eventually dropping from twice-a-week rubbish pickup to once a week.

Mayor Mufi Hannemann on Thursday signed into law a bill that would require the city to start curbside recycling of at least two recyclable items, which means the administration has until July 2007 to set aside money for the effort.

Those recyclable items would include newspapers, bottles, cans, green waste or food waste. But the bill allows another year to add two more of those items, for a total of four.

But Djou, who wrote the bill and an earlier version that would have set the deadline sooner January 2007 and pushed for more recycling, said he would like to see the city move faster.

"While I am happy that curbside recycling is now mandated, we should get this program started now," Djou said. "I am looking forward to offering a budget amendment to fully fund curbside recycling this year and get the program under way by the start of 2007."

City Councilwoman Barbara Marshall predicts the council and the public would reject once-a-week pickup as they have in the past.

"I think that's a public health hazard," Marshall said.

The councilwoman said she fought the idea under former Mayor Jeremy Harris "and I'll fight it again."

Hannemann spokesman Bill Brennan said, "We'll see if he (Djou) can garner the support of his council colleagues."

Brennan said the council could have passed the bill with an earlier deadline but chose not to, so the current budget does not set aside money to begin the program any earlier.

And Brennan noted several past efforts to switch to once-a-week rubbish pickup have been trashed:

"It's met with some resounding negative response from the public at large, from the state Health Department and from members of council and other elected officials."

Jeff Mikulina, the Sierra Club's Hawai'i Chapter executive director, said his organization's figures continue to indicate that the curbside recycling program would cost far less than the $8 million a year that the Hannemann administration is estimating now.

Once the city got back some money from the deposit beverage containers, and based on earlier estimates from would-be bidders for a recycling contract, Mikulina believes the cost would be closer to $4 million or less a year, or about $25 per household.

"There is no reason why the people of O'ahu need to wait another two years before they see curbside recycling," Mikulina said.

He said he believes the need for twice-weekly pickup will be reduced as people embrace recycling.

"People want to do the right thing. They want it to be easy and convenient," Mikulina said.

Reach Robbie Dingeman at rdingeman@honoluluadvertiser.com.