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Don't let garbage go to waste

by Cindy Wendt, Science & Environment editor


Swaying palm trees, spectacular beaches, and lush green rainforests make up a grand portion of the island on which we live. Yet, within this tropical paradise, O‘ahu generates 1.5 million tons of waste each year. The waste piles up on open land and settles into deep seas—any way that the garbage can be hidden and forgotten by those who create it.

Recycling reduces the amount of waste piled into existing landfills, allowing these landfills to last for longer periods of time, says the Web site for the City and County of Honolulu’s Refuse Division

Click on image for larger view

. The Waimanalo Gulch Landfill is a 12-year-old landfill on O‘ahu. Roland Batangan, a scale master for rubbish at the landfill, said about 1,000 tons of waste are dumped there every day. He said the landfill has already run out of room, so it now requires a 30-foot upward expansion. With the expansion, the landfill will only last until next spring.

“People complain,” Batangan said. “But Gary Gill at the Deptartment of Health says we need landfills....There is no space but to go up.”

What to recycle
The City and County of Honolulu’s Refuse Division estimates that 15 percent of trash in the home is recyclable newspaper, aluminum, glass, and plastic. Compostable yard trimmings make up another 25-30 percent. But recycling is not limited to household trash. At the office, as much as 85 percent of trash is recyclable office paper, and many retail stores and restaurants throw away recyclable cardboard and glass as well.

These are most of what Honolulu’s Refuse Division says can be recycled rather than wasted:

• Aluminum cans, glass and plastic bottles, and jars These items should be loosely placed into the “mixed containers” section. Do not place plastic bags holding these items into the the containers.
• Newspaper Remove magazines and inserts and deposit the newspaper loosely in the “paper” section.
• Corrugated cardboard Cardboard boxes must be flattened, and cardboard should be placed in the “paper” section. Cereal boxes, detergent boxes, tissue boxes, etc. cannot be placed in this section.
• Telephone books Place loosely in the “paper” section only during the Verizon Hawai‘i Telephone Book Campaign from July-August.
• White and colored office paper White and colored bond paper should be seperately sealed in a bag or box and placed in the “paper” section. White and colored paper must be in separate bags or boxes; no envelopes, stick-on labels, magazines, newspapers, staples, rubberbands, etc. should be included with the paper.
• Plastic grocery bags Bring to Safeway stores and place in receptacles for these items usually found at the front of the store.

Where to recycle
Many public schools all over the island provide recycling bins for anyone willing to recycle. Visit for listings of these schools.

For people unable to carry their recyclables to these schools, O‘ahu Community Recycling provides the option of curbside recycling. For $12 a month, OCR provides customers with two 18 gallon recycling bins and regular pickups at residential homes. Condos and businesses can also arrange for pickup by OCR.




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