City recycling contract provides for separating


POSTED: Monday, December 01, 2008

Question: We are happy to have recycling collection now in Kailua. However, we are curious about how these materials are separated, when glass, newspapers, cardboard and plastics are all combined in the same blue container. Wouldn't it make sense for homeowners to separate the items further?

Answer: There's no need to separate the recyclables because, under the city's program, they're all sorted at a central processing facility.

The city has a two-year contract with RRR Recycling Services to handle its curbside recycling program.

All the materials tossed into the blue recycling bin are collected in a “;single-stream collection system,”; explained Markus Owens, spokesman for the city Department of Environmental Services.

Because of its convenience, this type of system not only minimizes collection costs, but results in high participation and recovery rates, he said.

By comparison, programs that require sorting at the curb are more costly to operate and more complicated for households.

“;The national trend, especially for larger cities, is toward single-stream systems,”; Owens said.

Under its contract with RRR Recycling Services, which began in November 2007, the city pays a $45-per-ton processing fee but is credited back on the HI-5 beverage containers that people haven't redeemed.

The credit is averaging about $30 per ton, resulting in a net cost to the city of about $15 per ton, Owens said.

By comparison, simply disposing of all the potential recyclables would involve a $50-per-ton disposal fee.

“;So, the city and its taxpayers are saving by recycling,”; Owens said.

However, “;as we expand the program to additional communities, the composition of HI-5 beverage containers may shift, more or less, and affect cost,”; he said.

Plus, a new long-term, higher-volume contract also is likely to result in different cost figures. Owens said a longer-term, larger-volume processing contract should go out to bid early next year.

Q: The garbage truck comes to our neighborhood around 4:30 to 5 a.m. Monday to Saturday, creating a lot of noise. The sounds get amplified in the early hours, and it feels like someone is hitting a gong next to your ear. I found two bills (03-01 and 03-26) submitted by Councilman Charles Djou to prohibit the collection of refuse and light/heavy vehicle operations before 6 a.m. in Waikiki. Are these bills in effect now?

A: No action was taken on either proposal, both introduced in 2003, and no similar legislation has gotten anywhere.

We looked at this problem several years ago—see archives.starbulletin.com/2002/02/10/news/kokualine.html—and basically nothing has changed since then.

There is no law specifically prohibiting pre-6 a.m. garbage pickups, and the Honolulu Police Department says officers aren't equipped to determine whether the clanging and beeping, even in the early morning hours, is “;unreasonable.”;

The advice HPD has given in the past was to complain first to the private companies involved, then to get elected officials involved.