REDUCE. REUSE. RECYCLE.
Recycling system culls garbage effectively
It seems an inefficient way to collect recyclables -- dumping newspapers, heavy cardboard, cans and bottles in one blue bin for curbside pickup.
But a combination of automation and old-fashioned hand-sorting on the other end ensures that the simple system pays off, for the city and for the environment.
The mixed recyclables collected from the blue bins are trucked to RRR Recycling Services' facility at Campbell Industrial Park, where the mishmash of recyclables travels along an elevated conveyor belt, or "sort line." Workers pull out each product by hand, dropping them into bays below.
The goods are then compacted and baled, ready to be loaded into containers for shipment to distant markets.
Under the new contract, the city is expected to pay $45 a ton to RRR to process the mixed recyclables. That is slightly less than the $50 a ton it pays for disposal of municipal solid waste and the $50 a ton it pays Hawaiian Earth Products to handle green waste.
But the city will also earn some money back from the mixed recyclables because it receives the 5-cent deposit on each HI-5 beverage container in the mix. Those payments are expected to lower the city's net cost for processing mixed recyclables to just $15 a ton, according to the Curbside Recycling Pilot Evaluation Report 2008.
The city will also save on transfer costs for municipal solid waste because green waste and mixed recyclables are delivered directly to the recyclers without need for transfer stations. With recyclables replacing one weekly garbage pickup, and manual green waste collection giving way to automation, the city also expects to save on labor.
Annual operating costs are projected at $43.8 million a year for the combined curbside recycling and garbage collection, compared with $43.6 for the current system. That includes the substantial cost of the 260,000 new recycling bins, at $90 apiece, annualized over their 10-year life span. The projections are conservative because they use a $50-a-ton processing charge for mixed recyclables, rather than the lower net cost of $15 a ton.