CRAIG T. KOJIMA / CKOJIMA@STARBULLETIN.COM
Keehi Transfer Station was mixing plant and tree trimmings collected in urban Honolulu with garbage as recently as last week. A city official says the problem has been resolved. A pile of trimmings, left, was seen yesterday at the station separated from the rest of the garbage.
City corrects green-waste recycling problem
Yard trimmings were mixed with garbage at a transfer station
Plant and tree trimmings collected at residential curbsides in urban Honolulu are now going to Hawaiian Earth Products for recycling, rather than to the HPOWER plant to be incinerated, city officials said yesterday.
As recently as last week, some of the "green waste" collected on Oahu's south side was getting mashed back in with the garbage and sent to HPOWER or the landfill instead of being recycled, said Suzanne Jones, the city's recycling coordinator.
"The problem has been corrected," Jones said. "I would hope that anyone who had been separating out their green waste would continue to do so."
The problem was happening at the Keehi Transfer Station on Middle Street, which is where city trucks mixed green waste with regular garbage. The garbage was then reloaded onto larger trucks and taken to the city's HPOWER plant or the Waimanalo Gulch Landfill on the Waianae Coast, Jones said.
Green waste that is bagged and bundled by residents from Hawaii Kai to Salt Lake gets offloaded at the Keehi Transfer Station and reloaded onto trucks that take it to Hawaiian Earth Products' mulch-making facility at Campbell Industrial Park.
Gradually, the volumes of both garbage and green waste coming into the Keehi station have increased so that there was not enough room at times to keep the green waste separate from the garbage, Jones said.
City spokesman Bill Brennan said the problem has been "off and on" at Keehi during 2005.
KITV reported the issue last Thursday.
Mayor Mufi Hannemann asked the Environmental Services Department to correct the problem, and by Tuesday some garbage destined for Keehi was being rerouted to other transfer stations, to make more room for the green waste, Brennan said.
Once contaminated with garbage, yard clippings will not be accepted by Hawaiian Earth Products, which has a contract with the city to process it into mulch and other gardening products.
The Keehi station was built to handle about 500 tons of garbage a day but at times in 2005 handled as much as 700 tons of garbage and green waste combined, Jones said.
The city wants to have city truck drivers who collect green waste in southern Oahu to begin delivering it directly to Hawaiian Earth's Campbell Industrial or Kailua locations, Jones and Brennan said. However, that will require negotiation with the drivers' union, Brennan said.
Curbside collection of green waste on the rest of Oahu, including the areas that have used blue bins for it since March 1, goes directly to Hawaiian Earth, Jones said.
Hawaiian Earth Products has received about 7,500* tons of green waste from the city from January through Tuesday, said Ron Westmoreland, regional manager. City green waste comes from curbside collection at residences, both in blue bins and in bags and bundles, and in bulk from the city's parks and other departments, he said.
During 2005 the quantity of green waste coming to Hawaiian Earth from the city's curbside collection decreased about 19 percent, Westmoreland said. He was not sure if the situation at the Keehi Transfer Station played a role in that decrease.
Friday, April 21, 2006
» Hawaiian Earth Products has received about 7,500 tons of green waste from the city from January through Tuesday. A story on Page A5 in some of yesterday's editions incorrectly said the company received 750 tons.