Kokua Line

By June Watanabe

Putting the effort in at bin
helps Hawaii’s recycling

Question: I have recently heard conflicting information regarding the recycling of paper. As many of us in Hawaii would like to do our share of saving our environment, it would be nice to know that we are not doing this in vain. Does it make a difference if we segregate white from colored paper? Does this paper get recycled or just thrown to be burned? What happens to newspapers? Is it worth everyone's time and energy to recycle anything, including plastics, bottles and aluminum?

Answer: It does make a difference if you separate items for recycling and whether you recycle or not.

You can toss your paper in the family trash can, where it will be taken to the city's HPOWER plant and incinerated, or you can deposit it at one of more than 85 community recycling bins around Oahu where it definitely will be recycled, said Suzanne Jones, the city's recycling coordinator.

"Everything (paper) that is collected in the community recycling bins is delivered to a recycling facility (and) is sorted, compacted, baled, shipped to markets," Jones said. All the plastics, bottles and aluminum cans that are collected are shipped to different recyclers, as well, she added.

It is important to sort the paper because there are different grades, with white paper "recycled separately and differently" from colored paper.

"They are used to make different products and have different values, with the white paper having a higher value in the recycling market," Jones said. "And both of them are of a higher value than newspapers and cardboard."

In the paper section of the community recycling bins, people can deposit newspapers, flattened cardboard boxes, and white and colored paper. You are asked to separate the white and colored paper, sealing them in a bag or box, and if possible, identifying them on the outside.

After the items are collected, they are taken to Honolulu Recovery Systems (the current city recycling contractor) on Sand Island and put on different conveyor belts, Jones said.

The same thing happens with the aluminum, glass and plastic containers collected in the other section of the recycling bins, she said. Although they are collected together, once the items reach the recycling facility, they are separated for shipment to different markets. (Steel and aluminum containers tossed in the trash aren't lost, however. They are separated and collected at the HPOWER plant for recycling.)

One tangible payoff is the amount of revenue generated by the sale of recyclable materials, which all goes to the schools where recycling bins are located. Last year, that amounted to about $50,000 in shared revenues, Jones said. Since the community bin recycling program began in 1990 with 20 schools, more than $700,000 has been given to the schools, she said. (There are some bins located in shopping centers, but the centers have designated nearby schools to receive the money.)

Beyond the monetary gains, recycling pays off in so many other ways, Jones said. "Recycling pays in protecting our environment and diverting that amount of material away from our disposal sites. We just can't keep throwing it all away."

Jones also pointed out that almost everyone on Oahu has separate, curbside pickup of yard waste twice a month.

"There is more yard waste -- grass clippings, tree trimmings, hedge trimmings, leaves -- coming from our homes than all the recyclables added together," she said.

The yard waste is taken to a local composting facility, where it is made into mulch and compost and sold in garden shops. The city doesn't make money off this endeavor, and in fact, pays the composter to take the yard waste.

But "we pay less" to have the yard waste hauled away for composting than for burning, Jones said.

"When you look at composting, it's such an example of sustainability," she said. Yard waste is made into mulch and compost to be used in yards, gardens and parks. "That's a real closed-loop, sustainable system."

For more information about how and where to recycle, call 692-5410 or check the city's Web site,

Auwe and Mahalo

Auwe to the thieves who broke into several rental cars at the Bishop Museum parking lot on Thursday, Oct. 17. The theft put a significant damper on the remainder of our visit. As a former 25-year resident, I felt particularly insulted. My 10-year-old son may have said it best: "This isn't paradise." Or perhaps, crime is now just another part of the price of paradise. Mahalo to the staff of the Bishop Museum and to HPD officer James Rahe, who responded to our report of the theft. -- No Name


To Juan Halunahan of the People's Open Market Program who assisted me when my car stalled at an open market on Monday, Oct. 21. It is so nice to know there are people like you willing to help. -- A Grateful Motorist


Useful phone numbers

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Honolulu 96813. As many as possible will be answered.
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