Councilman asks mayor for plan to ship trash
Mayor Mufi Hannemann's administration is being asked to come up with a "serious plan" to ship garbage off the island in the next fiscal year to extend the life of the Waimanalo Gulch landfill.
The request by Councilman Gary Okino, chairman of the Council's Planning and Sustainability Committee, came during a committee discussion yesterday of two measures. Bill 42 would give private trash haulers the green light to export trash off island, and Resolution 07-151, a nonbinding measure, would encourage the city to incorporate shipping garbage in its solid-waste disposal plans.
"The main concern is the landfill and not to put more stuff in the landfill," Okino said. He asked the administration to report back at the next committee meeting on June 19.
Okino said that if the administration shows it has a plan for the waste the state might reconsider a directive forcing the city to close the Leeward landfill in May 2008.
With the city looking at developing a new waste-to-energy facility and curbside recycling, shipping waste could provide one more component to slow the amount of trash that goes into landfill, he said. "If we can use this shipping method, it might extend this landfill," he said.
A landfill could then be used for "emergency" purposes only, such as for waste that can't be burned, recycled or shipped off island, he said.
The committee deferred taking action on Bill 42 and Resolution 07-151, but the measures are still alive and could be used in case the administration doesn't start devising a plan to ship garbage off Oahu, Okino said. He wants the city to plan for starting garbage shipments in the second half of fiscal 2008, which begins in July.
Okino asked Council Budget Chairman Todd Apo to find funding in the next fiscal year's budget to finance a half year's worth of shipment, or about $4 million to $5 million.
Apo, who introduced Bill 42 with Councilman Charles Djou, supports shipping waste as a viable alternative to a landfill.
"We need to seriously consider that option. Part of me is a little concerned that (the plan) hasn't been done already, but I think it's the right direction because until we have that plan together, we can't make an absolute determination of how much we can do and how to phase it in and all those types of questions," Apo said.
Martin Okabe, executive assistant to Environmental Services Director Eric Takamura, said that the administration doesn't object to shipping trash off the island as long as the city has control over the flow of garbage in the island's waste stream. That means private trash haulers would still need to go through the city -- and pay the $92-a-ton tip fee to the city -- to ship their trash off the island.
Mike Fitzgerald, president and chief executive of Enterprise Honolulu, a nonprofit economic development organization, said his group's analysis shows that shipping waste is a viable option for the city. "Exporting some of our solid waste will not only lessen the load on Waimanalo, but it is a cost-effective approach that is real, and ready to be implemented within six months."
Environmentalist Shannon Wood testified in opposition to shipping.