The Economics of Recycling in Hawaii
Paper, metal, plant clippings, plastic and many more items are recycled in Hawaii and each has a dollar value
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Prices Paid for Recyclables
Here are the current market rates paid per ton of recycled materials. Selling these materials in the open market helps the counties make curbside pickup of recyclables and green waste more economical, and helps collectors make a few dollars.
$140 to $190
$100 to $150
(but shipping costs
exceed market value)
(No. 1 plastic)
$360 to $670
$115 to $160
$1,060 to $1,700
(No. 2 plastic)
$160 to $345
Source: Honolulu County Recycling Office
Here is what happens to Oahu’s municipal solid waste, excluding construction and demolition (in tons).
|Amount Oahu diverts from landfill for recycling, reuse and compost:||453,372||480,061||510,000|
|Amount burned at H-Power:||585,569||594,793||727,000|
|Ash and residue from H-Power that goes to landfill:||189,351||163,618||145,000|
Total municipal solid waste that ends up in the landfill
(including H-Power ash/residue):
Source: Honolulu County Department of Environmental Services
On Oahu, 31,000 tons of food that can be recycled using the green-colored, green-waste bins, are mistakenly placed into the gray trash bins and taken to the landfill each year. That misplaced waste:
Percentage of recyclable materials on Oahu that were mistakenly placed in gray bins last year. That’s 17,158 tons of recyclables sent to the landfill.
Estimated extra income each year for Honolulu County if it can increase residents’ curbside recycling rate from the current rate of 52 percent to 75 percent.
Virtually all of the ferrous and non-ferrous metals are captured and separated using either magnet or eddy technology before trash is burned at the H-Power plant, according to the Honolulu Recycling Office. Much of that metal is then recycled.
No One Wants a Landfill
The only landfill on Kauai is in Kekaha, on the southwestern tip of the island.
The landfill was supposed to reach capacity in 2005 and be closed, but the deadline has been extended twice. Most recently, a proposed height extension of 85 feet would add five years to its life, according to Wil Chee – Planning Inc., which was hired by Kauai County to provide an environmental assessment in support of the extension.
Kauai County is searching for a new site at which to bury or burn waste, but NIMBY politics are making a site selection difficult, as it does everywhere in Hawaii and in most places around the world.
To combat this challenge, local governments in Hawaii are pursuing several options. On Oahu, H-Power is expanding its capacity, which should help reduce the solid waste dumped at Waimanalo Gulch. According to Covanta, the operations and management company at H-Power, the expansion will increase total waste processing capacity from 2,160 tons per day to 3,060. This will help increase electricity generation potential at the plant from 57 megawatts to 90. H-Power’s output helps Oahu offset the need to import nearly a million barrels of oil per year.
Included in the H-Power expansion is the ability to process larger items, like much of the construction and demolition debris that has been a challenge for solid waste management to this point.
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