Broad, islandwide recycling should not be delayed further
The Hannemann administration has indicated it can implement comprehensive recycling according to the City Council's timetable.
SOME Oahu residents finally will have a use tomorrow for the 64-gallon blue bins
they were given two years ago for rubbish to be recycled. The bins were intended for use in recycling newspapers, aluminum cans and plastic bottles but will be receptacles for yard clippings. Expanded recycling is scheduled to begin more than a year from now and should not be delayed further.
The City Council had planned to direct the Hannemann administration to begin curbside recycling for non-green items next Jan. 1, but pushed the startup date to July 1, 2007. The mayor canceled plans for islandwide recycling in October, saying he needed "time to iron out more of the details" to assure success.
Hannemann regards green-waste recycling as more feasible immediately. He has ordered that the blue bins, two-thirds the size of gray bins used for general garbage, begin being put into use at the 50,000 households that have been taking up garage space in Mililani, the North Shore and Windward Oahu.
He said the islandwide program could move as much as 125,000 tons of green waste a year that has been bagged and bundled for landfills into a "closed loop" creating mulch and compost. It is expected to cost $7 million a year. Curbside recycling of papers, glass and plastics would divert only 20,000 tons yearly at a cost of $4.5 million, or about $300 for each of Oahu's 150,000 single- family homes, according to city estimates.
Hannemann says most people think recycling should be free. They are right to assume that a place for comprehensive recycling should be found in the city's proposed $1.5 billion operating budget, 10 percent larger than this year's spending allowance.
Under the Council's timetable, the administration must add one type of refuse -- glass containers, newspapers, plastic containers or food waste -- to be recycled along with green waste by July 1, 2007. A year later, the city must have a program to pick up four of the categories.
Former Mayor Jeremy Harris began a recycling pilot program at Mililani in the fall of 2003 and announced in September 2004 that it would become islandwide within a year. By that time, Hannemann had become mayor and found the project was "without all the T's being crossed and the I's being dotted."
The administration has ample time to plan such a staggered project under the Council's schedule. Hannemann opposed the original bill, but Eric Takamura, the city environmental services director, calls the slower timetable "more workable." More delays would be unreasonable.