Centers have option to weigh recyclables
Why are you and the other news media not covering the fact that the state Department of Health actually is not authorized under the statute to reimburse people for recyclable containers based on weight alone? Its administrative rules are supposed to have only the same extent of authority that their implementing statute has. The only statute that the administrative rules are attached to is the one that deals with the Health Department being allowed to weigh the cans that redemption centers give them, not about the redemption centers weighing the cans that consumers give them.
Answer: You're right in terms of what the Health Department can require Certified Redemption Centers to do.
The department "does not require CRCs to weigh consumer loads," said spokeswoman Janice Okubo.
However, by state law, the centers do have the option to count or weigh recyclable containers, she said. And, by state law, the Health Department can require the centers to do a count only of loads of up to 50 containers.
As reported recently ("Kokua Line," Sept. 21), health officials will seek to change its administrative rules to require counts of up to 200 containers. The current 50-container-count standard was written into the original legislation setting up the state's recycling/redemption program.
Health officials believe they can increase the count to 200 by revising its rules and not by legislation. Okubo said it will take an estimated three to six months to make the change.
The accuracy of the weight-conversion rate, criticized by many consumers as being inaccurate, is set by the Health Department and also being re-evaluated.
We asked why the program couldn't be more consumer-friendly, allowing people to decide whether they really wanted the convenience of weighing or willing to wait for accuracy.
The answer -- again -- was that consumers do get to choose how they get their deposits back, either by going to sites with reverse vending machines, or bringing in fewer than 50 containers at a time.
"If they want a count, they can get a count," said Jennifer Tosaki, Health Department recycling coordinator.
She agreed that 50 "is too low," but said that a recycling system based only on count would result in long lines and waits: "Imagine standing in a line where everyone in front of you had loads of 600 or more containers that had to be counted."
Tosaki reiterated the department's stance that "weighing is an option to provide increased convenience for the program. Some people prefer to weigh because it is faster and they don't care about getting every deposit back ... they just want to recycle (and feel good about doing their part for the environment)."
Longer lines and waits could prevent more people from recycling, she said.
Tosaki pointed out that bars and restaurants are required to recycle, and "counting commercial loads would be impossible."
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