"3 can plan" gets canned

County cites budgetary woes, lack of viability as recycling program ends February 3, 2015

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

The county Department of Environmental Management ended its 2-year-old curbside recycling pilot program Sunday, despite calls from South Maui residents to keep its "3 Can Plan."

The department's Solid Waste Division issued notices to all 1,750 Kihei households last week reminding residents of the program's end and that twice-per-week trash pickup with brown bins would continue. The division also announced it would collect blue and green bins Saturdays through March 14. Missing carts may be subject to a replacement fee of $100 per cart, the notice said.

Citing budgetary shortfalls and a lack of viability to extend curbside recycling islandwide, Environmental Management Director Kyle Ginoza said "it doesn't make sense" to continue the pilot program only for select South Maui routes.

"We found it was a lot more cost prohibitive than we had initially assumed in the Integrated Solid Waste Management Program" that was drafted in 2009, Ginoza said Monday. "The plan said we would make $50 per ton of recyclables, but it ended up costing us $130 per ton to get rid of it.

"It's proven to be something we wouldn't roll out to the entire community based on the cost."

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 the Maui Meadows Subdivision and another along South Kihei Road. A blue bin was issued for mixed recyclables, such as cardboard, paper, select plastics, metal food cans and aluminum products. A green bin was issued for tree trimmings and other organic matter. Residences that participated in the program had their twice-a-week trash pickup schedule altered to once-a-week general trash pickup and once-a-week recyclable pickup.

Fact Box

Cart pickup schedule Residents are reminded to put out their blue and green carts for county pickup by 5 a.m. on the following days:

* Saturday: Akala Drive, Hoomua Drive, Kaapuni Place, Lanina Place, Luana Place, Makamae Place, Mapu Place, Mililani Place, Nahenahe Place, Waileia Place.

* Feb. 14: Hoohalahala Street, Kaleo Place, Keha Drive, Kehala Drive, Kohala Street, Kuaua Place, Kupulau Drive, Laniolu Place, Mikioi Place.

* Feb. 21: Hoala Drive, Hookipa Place, Keahi Place, Keonekai Road, Kumulani Drive, Lanihou Place, Lauli Place, Launa Drive, Malina Place, Pawali Street, Puu Hoolai Street.

* Feb. 28: Akai Street, Akina Street, Alena Place, Elima Place, Hoano Place, Hoonanea Street, Kahakai Street, Kahaone Place, Kahele Place/Street, Akina Street, Kupuna Street, Mahina Street, Malama Street, Mehani Circle/Place, Miha Place, Mokehana Place, Uilani Street, Waipahe Place/Street, East Welakahao Road.

* March 7: Kai Maka Place, Ewa Place, Halama Street, South Kihei Road, East and West Lipoa Streets, Nohokai Street, Uluniu Road, Waimahaihai Street, West Welakahao Road.

* March 14: North and South Alaniu Place, Aina Place, Eleu Place, Hoonani Street, Hou Street, Kahaapo Loop, Kaikane Place, Kapuhau Place, Konia Place, Namauu Place, Pauahi Place, Waiono Place, East and West Waipuilani Roads.

Missing carts may be subject to a replacement fee of $100 per cart.

Department officials said curbside recycling costs about $70 per year per refuse account, about $5.83 per month. Extending the service islandwide would cost the county up to $1.8 million annually and provide only a 3.3 percent landfill diversion, officials said in a notice issued to residents last year. South Maui residents rallied in support of the "3 Can Plan" during a Maui Meadows Neighborhood Association meeting last week, many even offering to pay the extra $5 or $6 per month to sustain the program for their households.

"We're really disappointed at their ending the recycling program," said Barbara Kaneshige, a 22-year Maui Meadows resident. She added that when one resident asked attendees of the meeting who would be willing to pay extra to keep the curbside service, "everyone's hand went up."

"I would pay much more than that, but we weren't even consulted," Kaneshige said.

The Maui Meadows Neighborhood Association Board penned a letter to the mayor's administration dated Saturday expressing its dissatisfaction with the program's cancellation.

"County recycling has been telling participants in the pilot areas that the program is succeeding. Then suddenly the program is unexpectedly canceled and labeled a failure by the (Department of Environmental Management). Participants are upset about this," board members said in the letter.

The board asked the county to delay suspending the curbside recycling program until the Maui County Council-ordered audit of the department is completed, and "the most viable solution has been determined."

The letter suggests residents be allowed to keep the blue and green bins, valued at about $80 a piece, which they say would save the county hundreds of thousands of dollars in pickup and storage fees.

An online petition calling for the continuation of the 3 Can Plan had garnered 592 signatures by Monday evening. The petition calls for the completion of an audit of the department, a public written report on the costs and benefits of the pilot program "within 90 days" and several public meetings to discuss the possibility of expanding curbside recycling islandwide.

Ginoza maintained that just because South Maui residents might be willing to pay the added fees does not mean all residents would. If the council approves funds to continue curbside recycling in the next fiscal year, the department would issue the bins to another area, possibly working-class neighborhoods in Kahului.

"We don't cater to only certain groups or certain areas. If it (curbside recycling) is funded in fiscal 2016 budget discussions, we would likely do it for another area . . . just to make sure other places would be in favor of that as well."

And, Ginoza said, South Maui residents still have the same recycling options available to other residents.

"There's many different ways to recycle, the drop boxes are still available, different composting facilities that take green waste for either a fee or free," Ginoza said. He added that Maui Recycling Service offers the same curbside pickup service for about $30 a month.

"We don't feel like we're eliminating all options to recycle," Ginoza said. "If the mayor and the council want to allot budget or charge fees for certain efforts . . . I'll implement (them). But based on discussions we've had, and how we've looked at budget deliberations, it's been less about raising taxes and fees as helping people survive and not taxing them out of their livelihoods."

He contended that the majority of Maui residents would not be willing to pay the added fees for curbside recycling.

Still, at least for some Kihei residents, the benefit of curbside recycling is well worth the money.

"People don't like to pay more for the same old service. But curbside recycling is different. It is a new and very valuable and important service provided at a reasonable cost and is a great benefit," Maui Meadows resident Larry Shapiro said, adding that Oahu offers islandwide curbside recycling pickups to 160,000 households.

"If this popular and successful test program is canceled without careful analysis and input from the public, the opportunity to expand curbside recycling islandwide will be lost forever."

For more information about the county's recycling facilities, visit mauicounty.gov or call the Department of Environmental Management at 270-8230.

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

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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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