CRAIG T. KOJIMA / CKOJIMA@STARBULLETIN.COM
Blue trash cans were emptied yesterday by city refuse trucks. Riding shotgun with driver Cal Kehau was Kenneth Shimizu, the city's deputy director of the Department of Environmental Services.
Mililani recycling program debuts
The city kicked off its curbside recycling pilot program yesterday in Mililani, collecting about 30,000 pounds of recyclables, city officials say.
For more information and to download collection calendars, visit www.opala.org, call the city's Recycling Office at 768-3200 or send e-mail to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Crews will finish picking up mixed recyclables from Mililani residents today and tomorrow and will collect green waste in Hawaii Kai tomorrow in the first week of a yearlong curbside recycling pilot project intended to go islandwide in 2009.
Kenneth Shimizu, deputy director of the city Department of Environmental Services, said only 185 blue bins were set out on one of the heavier routes covering about 1,000 households in the "16-acre park," or Maukaunulau Community Park, area of Mililani.
"For the first day it was not that bad," said Shimizu, who rode along that route yesterday morning.
The most common unacceptable items in the recycling bin were cereal boxes and magazines, Shimizu said. He also noticed that generally, cans and bottles redeemable for 5 cents were not included in the blue bins.
City collection trucks covered four routes -- about 4,000 households -- in Mililani yesterday and collected about 30,000 pounds of mixed recyclables, including newspaper, corrugated cardboard and aluminum cans.
Of that amount, only about 5 percent, based on staff observation, were unacceptable material that would have to be sorted out and discarded, said Suzanne Jones, the city's recycling coordinator.
"It's a good indicator that the participants in Mililani know what they're doing," Jones said yesterday. "The only thing we looked at today was the quality of material. The participation and recovery rates will grow over the coming months."
Beginning next week, the towns will alternate in pickup with Mililani residents setting out their green bins and the blue bins for Hawaii Kai residents.
Shimizu said he expects Mililani and Hawaii Kai residents to sort their trash and recycle more beginning Jan. 7, when the free second trash pickup a week is no longer available in those cities. Pending a City Council vote on Nov. 7, Mililani residents would have to pay a $10-a-month fee for the optional pickup, while Hawaii Kai residents will not have that option at all.
This is part of a larger effort to reduce the amount of trash going to the island's landfill. According to a report by city-hired consultants, an estimated 40,000 tons of mixed recyclables and 80,000 tons of green waste can be diverted from the landfill annually in an islandwide curbside recycling program, Jones said.
Richard Taira, a Mililani resident of 30 years and a regular recycler, said curbside recycling will benefit the island by reaching residents who would not otherwise recycle, but that requires a change of culture.
"It's not the containers," Taira said. "It's the mind-set, the willingness to recycle. We've had the opportunity to recycle for years."