Recycling hits record in islands
Surplus keeps state's bottle fee at 6 cents despite record high redemption rate
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Hawaii residents redeemed a record number of beverage containers since July of last year, the state Department of Health reported yesterday.
The annual redemption rate hit 72 percent, resulting in 680 million beverage containers being recycled in fiscal year 2008 -- a 4 percent increase over fiscal year 2007.
Despite a law that requires an automatic half-cent bottle tax increase when the redemption rate surpasses 70 percent, the state will not raise the bottle tax this year.
The reason: The state still has $20 million in surplus funds from the bottle tax.
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The state's deposit fee for beverage containers will remain 6 cents per bottle for one more year, despite a law that calls for an automatic half-cent increase when there are high redemption rates.
The state's annual redemption rate hit a record 72 percent at the end of fiscal year 2008 in June, according to the state Department of Health.
Kyle Motoyama, coordinator of the state's deposit beverage container program, said the department decided not to raise the bottle fee for at least one year.
Bottles can be redeemed at certified recycling centers for a 5-cent refund, while a 1-cent tax goes into a special fund.
Funds from the bottle fee are used to administer the program, pay back deposits, promote education and transport the containers to recycling plants.
Motoyama said he expects a surplus in the deposit fee special fund -- currently at $20 million -- to shrink to $14 million at the end of next fiscal year.
The 3 1/2 -year-old redemption program saw redemption rates increase 4 percent over last fiscal year, when about 68 percent of bottles and cans were redeemed.
"People are recycling more," Motoyama said. "Our goal is always 80 percent."
"Our main mission is to increase the redemption rate but also make sure the customers are satisfied."
Coordinator of the state's deposit beverage container program
More than 680 million containers were recycled in Hawaii in fiscal year 2008.
The state also pays redemption centers to recycle the redeemed bottles -- 2 cents per container on Oahu and 3 cents on the neighbor islands, costing the state about 7 to 8 cents per container to recycle, Motoyama said.
While the special-fund surplus might seem high, it will drop considerably with increasing redemption and the use of funds to promote the program, he said.
The state is also planning to give about $6 million to the city's curbside recycling program.
Expenditures for 2009 are expected to climb with rising contract costs and program improvements through marketing, outreach and education.
"Our main mission is to increase the redemption rate but also make sure the customers are satisfied," Motoyama said.
The state also plans to provide a $3 million grant from the special fund to add about 10 more redemption centers in Hawaii.
In a survey of 701 residents in April, the state found the program gained support, but respondents were dissatisfied with the accuracy of redemption centers when containers were weighed.
The survey found 82 percent of residents recycled, up from 70 percent in 2006.