2 options keep phone books out of landfills
A teacher at my child's school asked students to recycle their phone books. We went online and found out about Hawaiian Telcom's recycling locations set up between Oct. 23 and Nov. 17. The Hawaiian Telcom Web site quoted Dennis Giusto, president/owner of All Rolloff Services, as saying he was participating in the recycling because, "I'm a strong believer in recycling, and helping Hawaiian Telcom Yellow Pages keep as many phone books out of the landfill as possible is an effort I'm glad to be a part of." Because those recycling locations were not convenient for us, we checked to see if the city's recycling bin at our neighborhood school was accepting phone books. The city Department of Environmental Services' Web page said, "NO TELEPHONE BOOKS -- Dispose of your phone books with your regular trash. Phone Books are more beneficial to the island in waste to energy (HPOWER) than recycling into new paper products." So now we are confused. Should we recycle to keep the books out of the landfills or dump them in with regular trash to be transformed into energy?
Answer: Either way, the phone books are not going into local landfills.
Hawaiian Telcom's recent recycling drive with All Rolloff Services resulted in 50 to 55 tons of phone books turned in, Hawaiian Telcom spokesman Ron Mizutani told us.
The books, including those from other companies, were shipped to a processing plant in Southeast Asia.
Asked about the city's contention that the unwanted books are more beneficial as an energy source, Mizutani said recycling gives customers another option to keeping the books out of landfills.
"We are diverting tons of directories from our limited landfills," he said.
The recycling drive was "very successful," but the company will re-evaluate whether to offer it again next year, Mizutani said.
Meanwhile, the city's position is that "low-grade, low-value papers," such as telephone books, junk mail, magazines and chipboard, "are combustible and provide greater benefit to the island in local energy production than shipping to distant markets to be made into new paper products," said Suzanne Jones, the city's recycling coordinator.
She characterized the waste-to-energy process as "energy recycling."
"Both energy recycling ... and material recycling divert waste from the landfill and provide environmental benefits, and the city plans to expand both over the coming years to significantly reduce what must go to a landfill," Jones said.
Currently, HPOWER generates 7 percent of Oahu's electricity and reduces the volume of waste by 90 percent through incineration, she said.
The city is evaluating proposals on expanding HPOWER's capacity, Jones said, while also working to increase the collection of higher-value recyclable materials through curbside collection as well as the drop-off recycling program at schools.
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