Exporting solid waste is part of Oahu's solution
IN RESPONSE to the Star-Bulletin editorial regarding Oahu's solid waste export ("Clear plan needed before city starts shipping away trash," May 19
), I am encouraged to see such an important county topic being reviewed, but I would like to correct a few of your assumptions. It is important to understand the whole picture when discussing Oahu's solid waste export. Your editorial pointed to concerns regarding the cost of shipping; the long-term risks; the impact in Hawaii of the recent Supreme Court decision on municipalities' control of trash; and shipping's impact on the city's H-Power investment.
» First, solid waste export is a cost-effective short-term solution. The cost of shipping 250,000 tons through the private sector (no county tipping fee) would be $10,250,000* a year in lost revenue to the city, approximately 8 percent of the total city disposal budget. While these costs might seem substantial, they are a prudent investment to take pressure off of the Waimanalo landfill, develop a viable recycling program, buy time for the city to expand and invest in H-Power, or consider alternative technologies that will be substantially more expensive. Unfortunately, the Waimanalo landfill is scheduled to close in May 2008, adding more uncertainty to the city's solid waste management plan. In the meantime, waste export could commence in 6-12 months.
» Second, Hawaiian Waste Systems would provide set fees for any waste export contract. The only escalation would be a cost-of-living increase, common to all long-term contracts. The price of fuel and disposal increases would be our risk.
» Third, the recent Supreme Court decision regarding municipalities' right to control garbage export does not necessarily mean the city has the authority to charge whatever it wants on privately disposed of waste. HWS is continuing to review the legal impact of the decision, but, more important, would like to work cooperatively with the city to solve its solid waste dilemma.
» Finally, export is just part of the solution for Oahu. Annually, more than a million tons of waste needs to be disposed of on Oahu. H-Power can only burn 620,000 tons, even when working above design capacity. The primary benefit shipping would provide is to reduce rubbish going into Waimanalo and allow the city to have the time necessary to expand recycling, and additional waste-to-energy technologies. The city's current strategy of basing much of its solid waste disposal plan on an unwanted landfill that is slated to close next May is simply not prudent.
Waste export is increasingly the norm across the country. Hawaii is currently the only state that does not import or export part of its solid waste. More than 50 municipalities currently rely on the Roosevelt landfill in Klickitat County, Wash., as a disposal solution. Roosevelt would welcome Honolulu's solid waste export to generate revenue for the county and provide a short-term solution for Honolulu's solid waste.
Jim Hodge is chief executive officer of Hawaiian Waste Systems in Seattle, Wash.
Friday, June 8, 2007
» The "Another Perspective" column by Jim Hodge of Hawaiian Waste System that ran yesterday on page A10 contained an incorrect dollar amount. The sentence in question should have read, "The cost of shipping 250,000 tons through the private sector (no county tipping fee) would be $10,250,000 a year in lost revenue to the city, approximately 8 percent of the total city disposal budget."