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Waste Diversion and Recycling Efforts in Hawaii

Hawaii beverage deposit program has recycled 4.7 billion cans and bottles since 2005

Hawaii sells more than 900 million beverage containers per year and up until 2005, most of them were simply tossed into the trash. With limited landfill space, that was not a sustainable solution.

The Hi5 Beverage Container Program launched in 2005 has helped turn things around by offering $0.05 for every container recycled. Nearly 5 billion beverage containers have been recycled ever since.

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Zero Waste is sweeping the State

The State of Hawaii is one of a select few states currently striving for zero waste. Zero waste is a philosophy and lifestyle where waste is either recycled or reused. Places like Hawaii County have already drafted up Zero Waste Plans, and other parts of Hawaii are doing the same.

Schools are even joining in. The Zero Waste School Initiative was launched during the 2012-2013 school year, and it helps educate and put into practice zero waste ideas and technology.

Where does all the waste go?

Not all waste can be, or is, recycled. Much of the non-recycled waste in Hawaii is sent to the H-Power Plant on Oahu, which is a waste-to-energy plant that burns the waste to create electricity – up to 8% of Oahu’s electricity usage.

There are also several other landfills in Hawaii that accept waste, and some waste is shipped away to landfills on the mainland.

Landfilling and shipping waste is expensive, topping $100 per ton in some cases. With the cost of recycling operations dropping just about every year, it’s becoming much more cost effective to recycle rather than landfill, not to mention the environmental benefits of recycling.

30% of waste in Hawaii is construction and demolition (C&D) debris

This is significant because C&D is almost entirely recyclable – about 80% of it. In all, about 600,000 tons of C&D debris is disposed of each year in Hawaii.

There is a C&D landfill located on the Islands of Oahu and Maui, but not on the other islands. The tipping fee at these facilities are lower than that of a traditional landfill.

TIP: Ask your dumpster rental provider if they can dump at one of these C&D landfills to save on the cost of your rental.

Certain organizations in Hawaii accept salvaged building materials:

…just to name a few.