By Nina Wu
Life in paradise is a paradox.
Josh Hancock, owner of Downbeat Diner and Lounge in Honolulu Chinatown, wants to recycle the high volume of glass wine and liquor bottles that he has. But he can't. And therein lies the irony.
Since July, Hancock and two other businesses nearby have had no choice but to throw two 50-gallon barrels of wine and liquor bottles in the trash. All because their recycling vendor was no longer picking them up. Because the city of Honolulu decided to cut the reimbursement to recyclers for glass in half, to 4.5 cents a pound from 9 cents a pound in July, as reported in the Star-Advertiser.
Companies like Reynolds Recycling no longer accept the liquor bottles and other nondeposit glass from the public.
"It's like crazy," said Hancock. "Everybody that works here, myself and my partners, we're all from that generation where recycling became ingrained in us. To have our leaders make these laws to tell us not to do that, and throw glass into the trash is backwards."
"It doesn't feel good to do it, but we're handicapped."
Hancock estimates between the three businesses, they're throwing out about 150 pounds a week. The volume from bars in Waikiki is likely two or three times higher.
The state should have stepped up to cover this predictable funding gap, according to an editorial we ran July 31. Now this glass is ending up as "noncombustible residue" in our landfills.
Glass, after all, is generally the better alternative to plastic, which we're trying to get out of our oceans. The irony is that this very ocean that surrounds us is being used as the excuse for the cost of recycling. Instead of shipping the glass out of state, surely, there's a sustainable solution that can be found at home.
Just to clarify, not all glass recycling on the island has ended.
>> Recycling vendors are still accepting HI-5 glass bottles. You still get 5-cents back per glass bottle.
>> You may still put glass items (glass pickle jars, jelly jars, wine bottles) etc. in your blue bin for curbside recycling. That glass is still being recycled, according to Suzanne Jones, assistant chief of Honolulu's refuse division.