‘3 Can Plan’ residences can keep bins

County to discuss whether curbside recycling should cease, continue or expand

February 6, 2015

By EILEEN CHAO - Staff Writer (echao@mauinews.com) , The Maui News

South Maui residents will get to keep their recycling bins while the county deliberates whether or not it should cease, continue or expand its pilot "3 Can Plan."

The county Department of Environmental Management announced the end of its 2-year-old curbside recycling pilot program at the start of February. The department notified all 1,750 Kihei households that took part in the program that it would begin collecting the 96-gallon green and blue bins used for recyclables.

About 25 residents met with Mayor Alan Arakawa in his office in Wailuku on Wednesday to protest the cessation of the program, wielding signs that read "Save the 3 Can Plan" and "Blue, green, brown, it works."

The Maui News / MATTHEW THAYER photo

The county ended its curbside recycling pilot program Sunday but is allowing Kihei residents to hang onto the bins used for recyclables until “new recycling options can be presented to Maui County Council members.”

While the mayor did not reinstate curbside recycling pickups, he did allow residents to hang on to their bins "until such time that new recycling options can be presented to Maui County Council members."

"The request from the community was not unreasonable," Arakawa said in a statement released Thursday. "We explained to them that the cost of the program was not something the county could just absorb. Also, it isn't fair that all taxpayers pay for a service that one community benefitted from.

"But if these residents are willing to pay for the actual costs of curbside recycling, I don't see any reason why we can't let them keep their cans while we get them some numbers," Arakawa said.

Department officials have said that curbside recycling costs alone are about $70 per year per refuse account.

The South Maui households have been receiving the recycling service, paying the standard annual residential trash collection fee of $216, without additional charge for the past two years. But residents said during a Maui Meadows Neighborhood Association meeting last month that they would be willing to pay extra fees to keep curbside recycling.

"It's a very valuable service, and I am willing to pay for it . . . absolutely, no question," Maui Meadows Neighborhood Association Board President Debra Greene said Thursday.

"Because we live on an island, and we can't keep putting things into the landfill, and curbside recycling is so convenient, it's such a valuable service that paying that small amount, I think that's really good value for my money."

She added that during the association's meeting, about 99 percent of the 85 Maui Meadows residents who attended raised their hands when asked whether they'd be willing to pay $5 or $6 extra per month to keep the curbside recycling service.

"There's not much of an incentive for people to recycle if they have to schlep everything (to recycling centers), so the convenience of the curbside (program) is such an incentive for people to participate and help the aina," Greene said.

Recognizing that there is more work to be done, she said being able to keep the bins is "a very important first step."

"Once those cans were collected, there was probably no going back. Now that we can keep them, we can begin the process of talking about this and coming up with solutions," Greene said.

Kihei community activist Buck Joiner said Wednesday that he was "very pleased" with the mayor's decision to allow the residents to keep their cans.

"We have hope that the '3 Can Plan' will absolutely be continued, the only question is at what cost," Joiner said after meeting with Arakawa. "In the meantime, we're going to hold on to the cans and take very, very good care of them."

How long those cans will stay in Kihei is yet to be determined, officials said.

"We may be able to offer the pilot project participants the same service for a fee, or maybe we have to take this pilot project to another neighborhood such as Kahului, where we have a lot of extended families in one home, to see how curbside recycling works there," Managing Director Keith Regan said. "Or possibly we may propose a countywide curbside recycling service that we can present to council. There might even be a possibility of a private-public partnership with this. The main thing is we have the data, and now we need to propose some options."

Maui Recycling Service, a private provider, offers the same curbside pickup service to residents islandwide for about $30 a month.

The "3 Can Plan" began in August 2012, shortly after the county issued two additional 96-gallon wheeled bins to two refuse routes in South Maui - one in Maui Meadows and another along South Kihei Road. A blue bin was issued for mixed recyclables, such as cardboard, paper, select plastics, metal and aluminum products. A green bin was issued for tree trimmings and other organic matter.

Residences that participated in the program had their automated twice-a-week trash pickup schedule altered to once-a-week general trash pickup and once-a-week recyclable pickup.

Twice-a-week automated regular trash pickups resumed in those neighborhoods this week.

Residents remain responsible for their carts in the interim. Damaged or lost carts may be subject to a $100 fine per cart.

* Eileen Chao can be reached at echao@mauinews.com.

Copyright 2015 The Maui News. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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How crazy is it that the US landfills $11.4 billion in recyclable packaging materials every year? Plenty crazy. From cardboard shoe boxes to plastic detergent bottles, from Styrofoam fast food containers to cardboard egg cartons, from metals to those ubiquitous PET water bottles, our landfills are filling up with recoverable, recyclable packaging materials while driving up the cost of virtually everything we buy.

This sad story is that it is happening everywhere - in homes, offices, public buildings, backyards and supermarkets. Major US institurions, incuding the Defense Department contribute more than their fair share as do the smallest entrepreneurial elements of the US business community. It is happening literally in front of our eyes, every day. It's getting worse, not better, despite decades of attention. Sadly, it seems that throwing packaging "away" is still a huge part of American culture. MORE

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