RICHARD WALKER / RWALKER@STARBULLETIN.COM
Waste Management of Hawaii is using a new tool at the Waimanalo Gulch Landfill -- an electromagnet -- which lifts metal objects from rubbish and puts them into bins to be taken away for recycling.
Magnet exerts its pull on garbage
A test project will see if it is cost-effective to recycle metal extracted by the large device
A crane lowered a 1,000-pound electromagnet onto a pile of garbage at the Waimanalo Gulch Landfill yesterday, catching bicycles, filing cabinets, large television sets and bed frames.
Landfill operator Waste Management unveiled the first-of-its-kind recycling program yesterday -- a magnet that picks up about 10 tons of metal in a day's worth of trash.
The magnet, chained to the arm of the crane, removes metal from trash going into the city landfill, and sends it for recycling to Schnitzer Steel at Campbell Industrial Park. The magnet costs about $2,000 a month to rent.
The project will last for 60 days, company officials say. If it is able to at least break even on the costs, the company will make the program permanent.
"Because this type of project has never been done in the country, Waste Management was reluctant," said Russell Nanod, community affairs manager. "Now this might be something the company does nationwide."
The city already recovers metal from a garbage-to-energy plant, where much of the island's solid waste is burned to generate electricity. Nanod said this project recovers metal from the city's refuse stations and bulky-item pickups.
"Whatever we can keep from going into the landfill that doesn't need to be there will extend its life," said Ken Kawahara, spokesman for the city Department of Environmental Services.
The landfill has about 15 more years of capacity.
Mayor Mufi Hannemann asked the company in January to present proposals on how to separate metals from the landfill.
"There's no cost to the city," Hannemann said. "I'm going to encourage Waste Management to come up with more proposals like this. To their credit, they really heeded the call."
According to a city study, metals make up more than 20 percent of what enters the landfill.
"If we had manual labor trying to do this, could you imagine the type of injuries we would have, on top of the manpower, money and so forth?" Hannemann said. "This is a great partnership."