Recyclers need codes to function
Why don't the recycling machines take certain bottles, like Costco's Kirkland bottles? The other day, I took 140 Kirkland bottles to Times Super Market in Kahala and tried to feed the machine, but it wouldn't take the bottles.
Answer: There may have been a problem with the reverse vending machine that day, but it's difficult to pinpoint at this time.
However, the problem also could be that the bottles did not have bar codes that the machines are programmed to read.
It turns out it's not a simple matter of taking any container marked "HI 5" to a reverse vending machine and getting your deposit back.
Dominic Henriques, owner of RRR Recycling Services Hawaii, which operates the reverse vending machines at the Kahala Times, says all his machines are programmed to read bar codes, not the "HI 5."
He also explained that each time a new product comes out, it comes with a different bar code.
STAR-BULLETIN / 2005
A container of recyclable cans and bottles sits at the Hawaii Kai park-and-ride redemption center. Reverse vending machines often will reject recyclable goods without bar codes on them.
"All these manufacturers come up with so many different types of beverages, constantly," he said. "Every time (a new) one comes to the market, we don't get updated by the state, we just get updated as people bring them in."
If the bottle or can is rejected, "we need to take that bar code and download it into our system, to tell the machine to accept that product," Henriques said.
Sometimes, particularly with Costco brands and some of the bottled water brands, such as Dasani, the containers flat out don't have any bar code, he said. Often, too, bottled water sold by the case don't have bar codes.
"If it doesn't have a bar code, the machine will automatically reject them," Henriques said.
Another problem, he said, is that different container sizes of the same product -- 12 ounces versus 20 ounces, for example -- will have different bar codes.
Another example: A lime-flavored beverage will have a different bar code from the unflavored version.
Workers will take information about each new product as it comes in, but the actual downloading of the information into the company's computer system has to be done back at the office.
"Then we have to send it out to every single machine," Henriques said. So, "it's a little bit of a process."
If a machine rejects your bottles, Henriques said to just take them over to the cashier, who will do a hand count.
I was on vacation in Honolulu and didn't realize I lost my billfold on TheBus until after I returned to my hotel. I was to leave that night for home. I called the lost-and-found at TheBus, but no one had turned it in. Another call was made later by the Ohana Malia Hotel: The billfold had been turned in to bus driver. I want to thank the person who found it and turned it in to the driver. Also, mahalo to Glenn from the hotel for taking me to the bus station to pick it up. I was very happy to have it when I left Honolulu. -- Patty
Got a question or complaint?
Call 529-4773, fax 529-4750, or write to Kokua Line, Honolulu Star-Bulletin, 500 Ala Moana Blvd., No. 7-210, Honolulu 96813. As many as possible will be answered. E-mail to email@example.com
. See also: Useful phone numbers