Kokua Line

June Watanabe

Not too soon
to recycle
your bottles

Question: I know the bottle bill passed and redemption will start next year, but I have not heard any specifics. Do you know if any drink containers will be redeemable or if only those marked with "HI"? I thought of saving plastic bottles now, but if they're not redeemable, I'm just going to trash them.

Answer: You can't get the deposit yet, but you should think twice about just dumping the containers.

"Today's beverage containers are not eligible for the deposit, but they can be recycled at any of the community recycling bins on the island," said Suzanne Jones, the city's recycling coordinator.

The containers "generate a small revenue" that's given to the schools hosting the bins.

To be eligible for the five-cent redemption, plastic, aluminum and glass beverage containers must be labeled "HI 5 cents."

"In order to redeem your five-cent deposit, you have to have paid it as well at purchase," Jones said.

Beverage distributors can begin applying the deposit as early as November, she said, with redemption operations to begin Jan. 1, 2005.

"This should allow a transition period from nondeposit to deposit containers, so that there won't be many nondeposit left on the store shelves by Jan. 1," Jones said.

Redemption centers are to be set up by recycling companies in centralized, convenient areas around Oahu.

"Some will be manned centers that can handle volume redemption, weighing your bags of containers and converting pounds to number of containers for quick transactions," Jones said. "Other areas may have automated reverse vending machines."

We asked what impact the city expects the new bottle deposit law will have on the community recycling program.

The program has been "the mainstay of our residential recycling efforts for more than a decade," with host schools receiving a "small revenue return on the sale of the recyclables," Jones said.

About 1,000 tons a month are collected in the islandwide recycling bins -- roughly 75 percent paper and 25 percent mixed containers.

Although the city expects the volume to change once the bottle deposit program gets going and the city's curbside recycling program is implemented (beyond its trial in Mililani), "There's very little data upon which to base any accurate impact projections," Jones said.

But there was a 50 percent drop in material going to the community bins in Mililani after the city began its pilot curbside recycling project there.

Some bins will be removed once the bottle deposit and curbside recycling programs are implemented, "but those remaining may see increased revenues due to the deposits," Jones said.

Which bins would remain will be determined by usage. There's been some talk about placing reverse vending machines near community bins to encourage donation of the deposit to schools. But details of such a system have yet to be worked out, Jones said.

You can find where the community recycling bins are located by checking the city's Web site -- -- or by calling 692-5410.


See the Columnists section for some past articles.

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