Residents Want To Continue Recycling Plan
|January 13 25, 2015|
By EILEEN CHAO - Staff Writer (firstname.lastname@example.org) , The Maui News
Residents want to continue recycling program County: Cut is cost-saving measure January 13, 2015 By EILEEN CHAO - Staff Writer (email@example.com) , The Maui News Maui Meadows residents hope that the county will reconsider cutting the South Maui curbside recycling project known as the "3 Can Plan."
The county Department of Environmental Management announced in November the pilot program's scheduled end Feb. 1 after a two-year run. The department cited budget constraints.
"We took a survey of our members, the only thing we're unanimous about was we all wanted the '3 Can Plan' to be maintained," said Maui Meadows Neighborhood Association President Peter Davis, who testified before the County Council Infrastructure and Environmental Management Committee on Monday afternoon.
"We are the beneficiaries of the pilot program, and everyone simply loves it," Davis said.
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.
"When it started out, it was a pilot project so everyone was a little uncertain . . . what goes where," Maui Meadows resident Karin Carlson said. "But after that got sorted out, everybody got really into recycling.
"We love our plan and we don't want it to go away," Carlson said.
But county officials said the recycling program costs the county money that could be better spent maintaining critical core services.
"The money we use to send those recyclables to the Far East or China is monies we could be using for refuse collection or landfilling," Environmental Management Director Kyle Ginoza told The Maui News in November.
He said curbside recycling costs about $70 per year per refuse account. While that may add only $5 or $6 to a residence's monthly trash bill, Ginoza said the majority of Maui residents would not be willing to pay the extra charge.
"Unfortunately, our community is really price sensitive when it comes to trash. . . . If you try to raise the rate even a dollar or two, it's like, 'How come they raising the rates?' '' Ginoza said.
Residents pay $18 a month for county trash service; the actual cost of collection and landfilling is around $40, but the county subsidizes the service with property tax revenue.
Ginoza said the department is seeking cost-saving measures because "we didn't get a full budget" from the Maui County Council during budget deliberations last year. The department had requested six expansion positions in its near-$30 million budget request in May, but the council approved only two, prompting a feud between the council and administration that resulted in suspension of some trash services in August and September.
The department subsequently filed a request for a $239,000 budget amendment for the four positions that were not originally granted. That bill awaits a hearing before the council. "Since we didn't get a full budget, we had to prioritize which parts of the programs we would want and we would not want," Ginoza said. "We'd like to have more recycling, but we're already having challenges with running a landfill," which is the department's first priority.
But council members argued that the department should have enough money in its cache to maintain the landfill and to continue the recycling program.
"I'm very supportive of the recycling program, the community seems to enjoy it and wants to continue it. There is enough money in this fiscal year budget for it, but the department has chosen to discontinue it," Council Member Elle Cochran, who chairs the Infrastructure and Management Committee, said after the meeting Monday.
"Currently, a lot of us are scratching our heads wondering what is going on," she said, adding that a council-ordered audit of the department might reveal "some answers and hard cold facts about what is really happening."
The timeline of the audit was not immediately available Monday.
Davis and Carlson suggested that the county remove the blue can, which collects mixed recyclables like cardboard, paper and plastics that are shipped to the Far East, but keep the green can, which collects green waste.
"They pick it up like they pick up the regular garbage, it goes to the same location (Central Maui Landfill)," Davis said, adding that Maui Meadows in particular accumulates "an enormous amount of green waste" because lots in the subdivision tend to span at least half an acre.
"Clearly, green waste is predominately what is picked up at the curb. . . . If you take away the green waste collection, they (residents) are just going to go back to dumping them in the gulches," Davis said.
Ginoza said the option of retaining only the green bins has not been considered and "would be interesting to try," but in a way that would expand the service not just for South Maui residents, but the entire island.
Twice-a-week general trash pickup (brown bins) will resume in February, and the county will collect the blue and green bins from the residences shortly after, according to a letter issued to residents in November.
Kihei residents still have nearby recycling options. Kihei Recycling Center on Welekahao Road and Maui Disposal Redemption and Recycle Center on Hukulii Street accept drop-offs daily. Pacific Green Waste and Compost on East Welekahao Road takes green waste Monday through Saturday, though a fee may be charged.
Residents who wish to continue curbside recycling may opt to subscribe to Maui Recycling Service, a private provider that offers curbside recycling pickup at rates starting at $30.40 per month. The private service accepts glass, some aluminum, plastic bottles, newspaper, office paper, magazines, phone books, cardboard, household batteries, inkjet cartridges, small electronics, cellphones and used household cooking oil, according to the company's website. For more information about the private service, visit mauirecycles.com.
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 firstname.lastname@example.org.
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