Recycling plan would cut into trash pickup
Oahu residents would have one less garbage pickup each week, replaced by a recycling collection, under a proposal by City Councilman Charles Djou.
Replacing one weekly residential garbage collection with a curbside recycling pickup could help move up the timetable for Mayor Mufi Hannemann's administration to collect more than just yard waste, Djou said yesterday.
Djou's proposal comes after Hannemann signed into law a bill that mandates comprehensive curbside recycling of four types of recyclable items by July 1, 2008. The list includes glass containers, newspapers, plastic containers, green waste and food waste.
"(The bill) gave a very long time line to do curbside recycling, and I think our focus should be, must be, that we do this as soon as possible," Djou said.
The Hannemann administration began automated curbside pickup of yard clippings and other green waste this month. The bill requires that another recyclable material be picked up by July 1, 2007, and two more by a year later.
Djou said he believes that the administration can implement a comprehensive curbside recycling program with the four materials by next year.
The cost of such a program is not easy to nail down, said Jeff Mikulina, Sierra Club Hawaii Chapter director.
The Hannemann administration has said that comprehensive curbside recycling could cost an estimated $8 million for collection and processing. In next year's budget, the administration proposed spending $5 million to pay for the automated green-waste pickup.
Mikulina said he believes the cost would be between $2 million and $3 million a year, and that the city could even generate revenue by redeeming the 5-cent deposits on beverage containers collected in the curbside recycling program.
The success of the state beverage container redemption program shows that the habits of residents are changing, Mikulina said.
"It's all a matter of time now. We think residents on Oahu are ready for curbside recycling," he said.
Djou said he plans to add an amendment to the mayor's proposed $1.49 billion operating budget, currently before the Council, for the full cost of a comprehensive curbside recycling program. To pay for the program, he plans to propose cutting back regular residential garbage pickup to once a week.
The cutback in garbage collection is already meeting with opposition.
"Absolutely not," said Councilwoman Barbara Marshall, who also supports curbside recycling. "I've said from the very beginning I think that's a public health hazard. I have not been shown anything that changes that. We live in the tropics. We need the second day."
When Council Budget Chairwoman Ann Kobayashi was told of Djou's proposal, she said sarcastically, "Oh, that's going to be popular."
She said taking away the second day of regular trash pickup would be especially hard on large families who easily fill a bin twice a week.
But Djou said other cities that have implemented comprehensive curbside recycling found that household garbage is reduced by 40 to 60 percent. He said he is not in favor of charging a fee, and would rather offset the cost of the program with cuts.