Oahu moves into final phase of curbside recycling expansion
By Gordon Y.K. Pang
Advertiser Staff Writer
The fifth and final phase of islandwide curbside recycling begins Monday when roughly 36,000 West O'ahu households will start needing to keep track of which of their three bins to take out on rubbish day.
Long discussed as a means of diverting garbage from O'ahu's waste stream, curbside recycling finally began in October 2007 when homes in Mililani and Hawai'i Kai started getting blue and green bins to join the traditional gray bins.
Joining the rest of the island by going to curbside recycling next week are residents from Waipahu to Mākaha, including West Loch, 'Ewa, Makakilo, Kapolei, Nānākuli and Wai'anae.
Mayor Mufi Hannemann will hold a press conference at Honolulu Hale today to announce the final phase of service.
Hannemann is credited with making curbside recycling a reality after hammering out an agreement with United Public Workers, the union that represents refuse workers.
That will make about 160,000 O'ahu homes with the service.
About 123,000 households already separate their trash under the automated curbside recycling program launched in October 2007.
The city has collected more than 19,000 tons of recyclables to date.
According to recent statistics, the average family with curbside recycling service dumps about 22 pounds of recyclables into the blue and green bins each month. That's down about 4 pounds a month from last year.
Numbers from the Department of Environmental Services showed a majority of the 15 percent drop came from a decline in old newspapers going into the recyclable bin.
City officials hope that recycling rates will rebound now that the program is islandwide and as residents become more familiar with the service.
Under the program, the traditional gray bin gets picked up once a week rather than twice as has been the practice. Pickup on the second day of the week alternates between the green and blue bins.
Green bins are generally for green waste, including grass, tree and hedge trimmings.
Blue bins are for "mixed" recyclables, which include newspaper, corrugated cardboard, glass bottles and jars, aluminum cans, and plastic containers with No. 1 and No. 2 coding. Containers should be rinsed and the lids removed. Labels are OK.
For the blue bins, it's OK to mix different recyclables like newspaper and cans because they are hand-separated at recycling sites, said Markus Owens, public information officer for the city Department of Environmental Services.
The gray bins are supposed to be for everything else.
Most households will continue being serviced on their current collection days, either Monday-Thursday, Tuesday-Friday or Wednesday-Saturday.
A one-month transition period with continued twice-weekly refuse pickup will provide residents time to assimilate into the new system.
Households that consistently generate more than the average amount of green or nonrecyclable refuse can request additional carts at no charge.
Households can request up to two additional green carts, and one more gray cart, although the department asks that families fully recycle first and demonstrate need.
Those seeking additional bins should call the city's recycling office at 768-3200. Be prepared for city personnel to inspect and monitor how much refuse you set out.