According to a recent Honolulu Star Bulletin
article, each year 1.6 million tons of solid waste is generated
on the island of O‘ahu alone. Of that amount, only 500,000
tons are recycled annually. Furthermore, “approximately
800 million beverage containers are sold in the state each
year, the majority of which end up discarded in the waste stream
or as litter”, according to Hawai‘i State Department
of Health director, Chiyome Fukino, M.D., in a Sept. 2004 news
The department expects a 5 cent deposit
on beverage containers to work as an incentive for people to
recycle their empty drink
And the department has good reason to believe
so. A recent Honolulu Advertiser environmental column stated
by the Container
Recycling Institute shows that in the state of Michigan, where
the beverage container deposit is a dime, recycling is at 95
percent. Elsewhere in the country where the beverage container
redemption value is 5 cents, recycling on average is, at 70 percent.
Not including Hawai‘i, only 10 states have beverage container
laws, and those 10 recycle more bottles and cans than the remaining
40 states combined, according to an out-of-state supporter of
the new law.
Under the Deposit Beverage Container Law,
by Jan. 1, every deposit beverage container sold in the state
requires a 5-cent
and carries a refund value of 5 cents. Each container must clearly
indicate the refund value on it by that date.
A “deposit beverage container” refers
to those less than or equal to 64 fluid ounces. This includes
made of plastic, aluminum/metal, or glass and includes beverages
such as beer, mixed wine, tea and coffee drinks, soda, and noncarbonated
water, according to the new law.
The law was passed in June 2002. Effective
Oct. 1, 2002, every deposit beverage distributor in the state
began paying a nonrefundable
1 cent handling fee on each manufactured or imported deposit
beverage container, according to Fukino. The law directly affects
distributors who manufacture or import beverages. Companies such
as Coca-Cola Bottling Co. Hawai‘i, Pepsi Cola Hawai‘i,
and the Menehune Water Company, which bottle their products locally,
as well as companies that import beverages, such as Anheuser-Busch
of Hawai‘i, are required to pay the 5-cent deposit to the
state on each filled beverage container.
Dan Whitford, the area vice president for
Coca-Cola Bottling Company of Hawai‘i, does not view
the new beverage container law favorably. Because the law directly
affects Coca-Cola of
Hawai‘i’s products, they had been studying proposal
laws for several years before the current law came to the attention
of the general public, Whitford said.
“We do not believe that deposit law’s benefits
outweigh its challenges, and I say that not only as a beverage
distributor, but as an employer, as a Hawai‘i
resident, as a consumer, and as a taxpayer. Simply put, the bill’s benefits
are very limited, the law ignores the vast majority of the litter and recycling
problems it claims to ‘solve,’ and the law is burdensome,” said
Each distributor who pays a deposit charges
the dealer or consumer a deposit amount equal to the refund
value of 5 cents for
each container sold in Hawai‘i,
as outlined in the law. Dealers in turn charge consumers the deposit beverage
container deposit at the point of sale of the beverage excluding sales for
on-premises consumption, such as at restaurants and bars.
Dealers cannot charge a 6- cent
deposit, but they can raise their prices to pass on the 1-cent handling fee.
Some Hawai‘i dealers, like Wal-Mart, have not (at least yet) raised their
To whom are the beverage manufacturers and
distributors paying the nickel charge per container? A deposit
deposit special fund has been established
in the state treasury, according to the law. Into this fund go all revenues
generated from the deposit beverage container fee and from the deposit beverage
deposit. Monies in the fund will be used to reimburse refund values to consumers
and pay handling fees to redemption centers.
For consumers, the question is, where can
we redeem our nickel deposit? According to the new law, this
laid upon beverage dealers who collected
the 5 cents from the consumers. In most cases, dealers must operate a redemption
center by accepting all types of empty beverage containers with a Hawai‘i
refund value. So, with a few exceptions, wherever a beverage in a marked deposit
container is purchased, the nickel deposit can be redeemed at this same location.
At the time of redemption, according to
the new law, dealers are required to crush or destroy all deposit
accepted in order to prevent
duplicate refunds on the same container. Moreover, Hawai‘i beverage dealers
must ensure that each deposit beverage container collected is recycled and
must forward supporting documentation of this to the state.
However, for thirsty downtown campus students,
empty beverage containers may have to be reserved and taken
I don’t know where to redeem the refund for my bottles, but I’ve
been saving them”, said Shauree Garth-Kurch, a senior advertising major
Under the new law, specific guidelines do
not require all dealers selling beverages to operate redemption
centers by accepting
empty containers for
value. One such exception applies to businesses that are less than 5,000
square feet of interior space.
This applies to the majority of the vendors
operating near the downtown campus. One of these is Downtown
Market at 1158
Fort Street Mall. Neil Hilweh, a
Downtown Market employee, views the deposit beverage container law as a “very
by the state to advance recycling in Hawai‘i.
Despite moderate consumer complaints about
the new law, Hilweh said, “people
will get used to it.”
In any case, all dealers are required to
post a clear and conspicuous sign at each public entrance specifying
the name, address,
and hours of operation
the closest redemption center locations.
There are a few exceptions as to the physical
condition of the containers upon redemption. As outlined in
the new law,
redemption centers may refuse
the refund value on any beverage containers that are broken, corroded, dismembered,
or flattened. Neither will they pay refunds for any containers that contain
free flowing liquid or that do not indicate a Hawai‘i refund value.
Is the 5-cent refund really an incentive
to recycle? Five redeemed containers results in 25 cents for
a gumball or a handful
of Chiclets. Ten redeemed
containers can get you a public payphone call. And fifteen can buy you a
The nickel redemption is not a payment, but rather a refund of what you already
had to pay upon purchase of the beverage container.
Jason Matsumoto, who consumes five or six
canned beverages on a daily basis, views the new law positively.
“Our community is full of litter. All efforts to reduce
the trash on our beaches and in the streets are worth supporting”,
said Jason Matsumoto who started reserving empty beverage containers
for redemption before the law
went into effect.
But not all residents view the new beverage container law as
a solution for Hawai‘i’s
refuse. Beverage containers consumed in Hawai‘i account for less
than 2 percent of the total waste stream and only 7 percent of litter,
a recent environmental column in the Advertiser.
Kathleen Acierto, an accounting/nursing major at HPU, who has
been recycling all her life, says “it’s all up to the person whether they’re
willing to recycle. Most people won’t see the need for change until
there is a landfill in their backyard.”
According to Whitford, “If we spent a fraction of the money and effort
on improving comprehensive recycling in Hawai‘i, we’d not only
encourage the recycling of beverage containers, but food containers, detergent
newspapers, junk mail, boxes, and many other parts of the waste stream.
a question of focus and efficiency: Comprehensive recycling has a broader
focus and is more efficient – a hard combination to beat.”
more information on the Hawai‘i Beverage Container
Law visit www.hi5deposit .com or contact the state of Hawai‘i
Department of Health on O‘ahu at 586-4400.