Vandalism leaves Palolo Valley without recycling bins
Question: The Star-Bulletin's editorial "Grocery stores should take back drink containers" on Feb. 21 was excellent. Does the Star-Bulletin take back used newspapers for recycling? The problem that we are having is that schools seem to be discontinuing their role in recycling. Here in Palolo Valley, Jarrett Middle School quit hosting a recycling bin after some vandals set fire to it. We have driven around to other nearby schools, but are not finding any recycling bins.
Answer: The Star-Bulletin recycles its undelivered or unsold papers, but does not otherwise take back newspapers for recycling.
It should be noted that consumers are not charged a recycling fee when purchasing a newspaper, as they now are for deposit containers.
Newspapers can be recycled at 75 community recycling bins sponsored by the city and hosted at schools and three shopping areas islandwide, with proceeds benefiting the schools.
Beginning in September, schools will be able to earn three times the amount they're now getting for recycling, plus hold additional fundraisers by collecting recyclable beverage containers. Plans also are to have newly designed recycling bins and 50 more locations.
More on that later.
And you're correct -- there are no community recycling bins in Palolo Valley.
The nearest bins for Palolo residents would be at Kaimuki High School, Kahala Elementary and the University of Hawaii (2575 Dole St., Hale Ilima).
We confirmed with Jarrett Middle School Vice Principal Patrick Nishi that the school discontinued hosting a recycling bin in late 2005, because of repeated fires by vandals.
Firefighters would have to come "often" to douse the fires.
For a while, firefighters from a nearby station would secure the bin at night in an effort to prevent the fires, but they would have to come back each morning and unlock it, Nishi said.
That didn't prove to be a workable solution for the firefighters.
The frequent fires not only destroyed newspapers and other recyclables, they also added to the duties of a limited custodial staff, Nishi said.
On top of that, when the bin got full, people would just dump their recyclables on the ground. Those items wouldn't get collected and would be blown all over the place, resulting in even more work for the custodians.
There are only three custodians for the nine- or 10-acre campus, and even that number may be cut, Nishi noted.
The school doesn't anticipate hosting another bin any time soon, Nishi said. While there is value in having a recycling bin, it was just unfortunate that it was used "as a fuel source," he said.
The city has lost a few recycling sites over the years, but the majority of schools continue to participate, many for more than 15 years, said Suzanne Jones, the city's recycling coordinator.
The program began in 1990 with 20 schools and now involve 75 locations. The city hoped to expand to 100 locations, including shopping areas, for public convenience, and, at one point, had 85 sites, Jones said.
"We may have lost more shopping center partners than schools as the 'HI 5' redemption centers went into place," she said.
Jones acknowledged hosting a recycling bin "can come with a few headaches."
But "the schools stay committed because the program offers a hands-on learning experience for their students and an opportunity to serve their surrounding community and student families," she said. "The revenues generated from the program are put to good use, but also provide an aspirin for some of those little headaches."
The aspirin will be buffered this year, when a new recycling-bin contract is expected to take effect in September.
Schools will be able to earn three times the amount they now receive by hosting the multi-material recycling bins, Jones said. "Plus, the new contract will provide all new bins with improved design and signs."
Additionally, schools and organizations will be able to request a "HI 5" fundraiser bin for special fund-raisers.
This bin is meant to store only recyclable beverage containers marked "HI 5" and will be dropped off at an event, then removed quickly, Jones said.
With the new contract, the city also hopes to expand to 120 multi-material recycling-bin sites.
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