Archive for the ‘recycling’ Category

Triple Crown Diversion

November 18th, 2015

Some keiki have fun while helping to diver waste at the Reef Hawaiian Pro last November at Vans Triple Crown. Sustainable Coastlines Hawaii is helping to divert waste from the international surf event for the third year. Courtesy photo.

Some keiki have fun while helping to divert waste at the Reef Hawaiian Pro last November at Vans Triple Crown. Sustainable Coastlines Hawaii is helping to divert waste from the international surf event for the third year. Photo courtesy Sustainable Coastlines Hawaii.

Where there are major events and a gathering of crowds, there is waste.

For the third year in a row, Sustainable Coastlines Hawaii is playing a major role in reducing the impacts of waste on the land and ocean from Vans Triple Crown of Surfing events, which run from Nov. 12 to Dec. 8.

"We work together to minimize the effects that the competition has on our waste infrastructure by diverting as many resources as possible away from the landfill and encouraging composting and recycling," said Kahi Pacarro, executive director of Sustainable Coastlines Hawaii. "This past year, we were able to divert 60 percent of all debris that would have otherwise ended up getting wasted."

What that means is that staff and volunteers from Sustainable Coastlines will divert waste from the events with the following comprehensive waste diversion strategies:

>> Recycle and compost. Pop-up tents that separate recyclables and compostables from trash. The compostable items (food waste) will be processed at Waiehuna Farm, where it will undergo a bokashi fermenting process using effective microorganisms and then be transferred to the soil. Recyclables will be donated to local families. Trash will be sent to H-Power.

>> Reuse. Contestants and staff members will all be given a reusable water bottle that can be refilled at water stations instead of plastic water bottles.

>> Educate. This year, Sustainable Coastlines is launching an Education Station, a mobile classroom in a 20-foot container just in time for the Pipeline event. The station is a fun way to educate the public, including keiki, about marine debris and waste.

During the competition last year, Sustainable Coastline's efforts collected a total of 1,402 pounds of recyclables, compostables and trash.

It's possible to hold a large event while minimizing waste if the promoter or event producer is on board according to Pacarro.

Vans Triple Crown 2015 is very much on board. It's designated as a Deep Blue Surfing Event, which means it is required to divert waste from the landfill, utilize renewable energy to power the contest and webcast and support local community groups and charities. An HIC Pro Beach Cleanup was held Nov. 7 at Mokuleia's Army Beach.

The Vans Triple Crown of Surfing kicked off its 33rd year Nov. 12 with the Reef Hawaiian Pro, followed by the Vans World Cup of Surfing Nov. 24, and the Billabong Pipe Masters on Dec. 8, where the Vans Triple Crown and World Surfing League World Champion will be crowned.


Diverting waste from Vans Triple Crown. Courtesy Sustainable Coastlines Hawaii.

Diverting waste from Vans Triple Crown. Courtesy Sustainable Coastlines Hawaii.

Surfer Kelly Slater in front of the waste diversion pop-up tent. Photo courtesy Sustainable Coastlines Hawaii.

Surfer Kelly Slater in front of the waste diversion pop-up tent. Photo courtesy Sustainable Coastlines Hawaii.


Posted in Green events, marine debris, Ocean, recycling, Waste | Comments Off on Triple Crown Diversion

The recycling paradox

August 26th, 2014

Josh Hancock of Downbeat Diner wants to recycle his glass bottles, but he can't. That's the irony of living in paradise. Photo by  Dennis Oda. July 2014.

Josh Hancock of Downbeat Diner wants to recycle his glass bottles, but he can't. That's the irony of living in paradise. Photo by Dennis Oda. July 2014.

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.


Save your bottle caps

May 9th, 2014


The students at Mililani ‘Ike Elementary collected the most plastic bottle caps, winning a concert by singer and co-founder of the Kokua Hawai‘i Foundation, Jack Johnson.

The students at Mililani ‘Ike Elementary collected the most plastic bottle caps, winning a concert by singer and co-founder of the Kokua Hawai‘i Foundation, Jack Johnson. Mililani ‘Ike and Mililani Mauka Elementary schools tied for most caps collected, while St. Elizabeth School collected the most caps per capita. Honolulu Pulse photo.

Save your plastic bottle caps.

Kokua Hawai‘i Foundation's first Bottle Cap Collection Challenge netted 21,862 pounds of plastic bottle caps this year, and plans to hold another one in 2015. More than 50 schools, pre-school to high school, public, charter and private, participated in this  year's inaugural challenge. The caps collected have been sent to California to be recycled into new products, including Method's Ocean Plastic bottle and Preserve toothbrush and razor handles.

The contest, which ran from Feb. 1 through March 31, was an initiative to collect and recycle plastic bottle caps that are normally thrown away (they don't belong in the blue bin, in case you didn't know). And if you've been to a recycling redemption center, you find out that you need to remove them before feeding the reverse-vending machines.

Mililani Mauka and Mililani ‘Ike Elementary Schools tied for most caps collected overall, while St. Elizabeth School collected most caps per capita and won a special performance by Jack Johnson.

Congratulations to all of the following schools, who placed tops in the challenge (Top 13 get a waste-free classroom celebration kit with cloth napkins, Preserve cutlery, cups, plates and Method Ocean Plastic dish and hand soap):

1st Place Elementary - St. Elizabeth School - Most Caps Per Capita
2nd Place Elementary - Soto Academy
3rd Place Elementary - Kahala Elementary School

1st Place Middle/Intermediate School - SEEQS: The School for Examining Essential Questions of Sustainability
2nd Place Middle/Intermediate School - Waialua Intermediate School
3rd Place Middle/Intermediate School - Niu Valley Middle School

1st Place High School - King's Christian Academy
2nd Place High School - King Kekaulike High School
3rd Place High School - Aiea High School

1st Place Pre-School - Aiea Hongwanji Mission Academy
2nd Place Pre-School - Central Union Pre-School

Some inspiring stories and photos from the schools are available on the Kokua Hawai‘i Foundation blog page. Students and teachers alike shared their thoughts on the bottle cap challenge. Fifth grade students at Kahala Elementary volunteered to help unscrew caps at Honolulu Zoo. "Even recycling one bottle cap can make a difference," said one student at Niu Valley Middle School.

All proceeds from Jack Johnson's concert at Waikiki Shell on Friday, Aug. 1 during his "From Here to Now To You" Tour! will benefit the Kokua Hawai‘i Foundation. Tickets go on sale tomorrow, Saturday, May 10.

Great idea! Folks at Reynold's Recycling helped collect plastic bottle caps (which don't go in the reverse vending machines) to help schools participating in this year's Hawaii Bottle Cap Challenge. Photo by Nina Wu.

Great idea! Folks at Reynold's Recycling helped collect plastic bottle caps (which don't go in the reverse vending machines) to help schools participating in the Kokua Hawai‘i Foundation's Bottle Cap Challenge. Photo by Nina Wu.

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Bottle Caps

March 10th, 2014

Students at Lanikai Elementary are participating in Kokua Hawai‘i Foundation's School Bottle Cap Collection Challenge. Looks like they even have a special collection container. Courtesy photo.

Students at Lanikai Elementary are participating in Kokua Hawai‘i Foundation's School Bottle Cap Collection Challenge. Looks like they even have a special collection container. Courtesy photo.

I've had a bag full of bottle caps for some time. I know the city doesn't take them for recycling in the blue bin (only No. 1 and No. 2) in Honolulu. So, honestly, I was hoping to recycle them somewhere convenient.

And now that opportunity is here, with the Kokua Hawai‘i Foundation's first Hawaii School Bottle Cap Collection Challenge. Visit to find a list of participating schools.

Each participating school collects plastic bottle caps from the community and turns them in by March 31. Schools will submit a collection report online and also document the process with photos, videos and blogs.

The school that collects the most caps for recycling wins a special performance by musician Jack Johnson (the foundation’s co-founder).

The challenge, which started Feb. 1, is open to all Hawaii schools, from pre-school to high school. More than 50 schools, so far, are participating, mostly from Oahu, but also from Kauai, Maui and the Big Island. New schools are still welcome to register.

The foundation partnered with Method and Preserve to send the plastic caps to California, where they will be recycled into new products, including Method’s Ocean Plastic bottle and Preserve’s cutlery, plates and cups.

At Kokua’s beach cleanups over the year, volunteers have collected more than 25,000 pounds of waste, including thousands of discarded plastic bottle caps.

Can your cap be recycled?

The Kokua Hawai‘i Foundation has a collection guide. Look for the No. 5 inside the triangular recycling symbol, which stands for a rigid plastic called polypropylene.

These usually include caps that twist on to shampoo, water, soda, milk and other beverage bottles, as well as vitamin and medicine cap lids, the flip top caps on ketchup and mayonnaise, and peanut butter jar lids.

The recycling challenge is not accepting plastic pumps with metal springs, margarine tub lids or metal lids.

Happy recycling!



The gray bin

February 26th, 2014


Image courtesy of Honolulu Department of Environmental Services.

Image courtesy of Honolulu Department of Environmental Services.

So let's take a look at what goes in your gray bin, otherwise known as your trash bin, and the alternatives that are also available.

The city and county of Honolulu says all other general household rubbish — the non-recyclable trash that doesn't go in  your blue and green bins — goes in your gray bin.

What goes in your gray bin: Plastic bags, plastics No. 3-7, Styrofoam, telephone books, junk mail, magazines, cereal boxes, tissue boxes, paper plates, napkins, ceramics, dishes and glassware.

Now the city wants you to BAG YOUR TRASH, unlike the items in the blue and green bins, which it wants LOOSE.

Here are some recycling options for those items, though they won't necessarily be convenient (no curbside pickup).

>> Plastic bags can be recycled, though most people I know like to reuse them as liners for wastebaskets, dog poop and the like. However, if you want to recycle them, supermarkets like Safeway have a collection bin outside their stores.

>> Magazines, phonebooks, brochures and catalogs can also be recycled at Hagadone Printing, by dropping these off at its Kalihi headquarters. 274 Puuhale Rd. from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. weekdays and 8 a.m. to noon on second Saturdays. However, there's a limit of five phonebooks per household. If you don't live near town, this could really be out of your way, but still, it's an option. (Look for a blog post on this in the near future).

>> Plastic bottle caps. There have been past efforts to try to recycle bottle caps, without much luck. However, the Kokua Hawaii Foundation is collecting caps this year as part of its Hawai‘i School Bottle Cap Collection Challenge. Schools have until March 31 to collect caps and can win a special performance by Jack Johnson.

>> e-Waste. Also, if you have electronic waste, Pacific Corporate Solutions offers free e-waste events. They will be picking up e-waste from 8 a.m. to 3 p.m. Saturday, March 1 at 1564 N. King St., Saturday, March 15 at Kaimuki High School. Also, Saturday, March 15 at Koko Marina Center. Computers, monitors, laptops, printers, fafx machines and telecom equipment (all brands) accepted. No TVs or microwave ovens.

>> Sneakers. Also, the last I checked, the Converse Outlet at Waikele Premium Outlets was accepting sneakers of all kinds for recycling. Niketown Waikiki (now closed) used to accept them. Once again, depending where you live, this could be out of your way, but good to know.

So now you know what goes in each bin. As always, reduce comes before reuse and recycle (the 3 Rs. of recycling). And not all environmentalists are gung-ho about H-POWER because it releases carbon emissions into the air.

Sign  up for the city's wasteline e-newsletter if you want to be one of the first to learn about the new dates for Tour de Trash this year. There are also cute educational tools, like an Opala IQ book, this "Where Do Things Go?" web game and a whole series of recycling songs (listen to them all here) by artists like Henry Kapono, Jack Johnson and the Lava Jam Band.

By the way, if you're not sure what your collection schedule is, you can find it by entering your zip code at this link.

The green bin

February 25th, 2014

So let's talk about the green bin.

Oahu residents are doing pretty well when it comes to putting yard waste in the green bin, with a capture rate of 77 percent, which reflects higher participation and recovery levels, according to a 2011 city report.

What goes in the green bin: Yard trimmings, leaves, grass clippings and Christmas trees (chopped up). The yard trimmings should go into the green bin LOOSE, meaning no plastic bags here, either, because plastic is not compostable.

Also, in case you were wondering about many of these eco-friendly products out there — like cornstarch plastic flatware and compostable food containers, they don't belong in the green bin, according Suzanne Jones, the city's assistant chief of refuse. Honolulu does not have a commercial compost facility, at least not yet.

Yard waste goes to Hawaiian Earth Products in Kapolei, where it is composted into organic soil called Menehune Magic, which you can find at local stores. Pretty cool!

As of Dec. 31, 2013, Hawaiian Earth Products said it had recycled 1.1 million tons. What's nice about this process is that the material stays here, on island, and doesn't have to be shipped anywhere.

The city is considering whether to include fruit and vegetable waste in the green carts one day, but those plans are still in the works. Meanwhile, check out this new booklet called "Food: Too Good to Waste" with recipes and smart food tips form local chefs. There are also at-home composting options, including worm composting, Bokashi and – something we just bought  — a composter from Look out for a future blog post on composting at home.

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The blue bin

February 24th, 2014


Ok, so let's look at what the city and county of Honolulu accepts in the blue bin.

PET1>> No. 1 and No. 2 plastics. To find out what kind of plastic a container is, look for the number inside the triangle printed on the bottom. Generally, No. 1 plastics (Polyethylene terphthalate, or PETs) includes water bottles, shampoo and body wash bottles, and the clamshell containers that contain blueberries, spring mix and cocktail tomatoes that you buy from the supermarket or Costco. I've also found many of the SOLO brand clear plastic cups and containers to be No. 1. No. 2 plastics (High-density Polyethylene) generally include milk jugs, laundry detergent containers and vitamin bottles.  Take the bottle caps off before tossing into the blue bin.

>> Newspapers and office paper. Yes, your copy of the Honolulu Star-Advertiser, MidWeek and other newspapers goes in the blue bin. Thank you for recycling! What you may not know is that the city also accepts white and colored office paper now.

>> Cardboard. So the city only accepts corrugated cardboard, which is the thick kind (you can see a wavy line between two layers). If you get an Amazon delivery, it's in corrugated cardboard. Put it in the blue bin. Cereal and tissue boxes and egg cartons are made of thinner paper material and unfortunately, the city does not recycle those.

>> Glass. All glass bottles and jars. Of course, you can redeem glass beverage containers at Reynold's Recycling or RRR Recycling. But if you don't care about getting your nickel back, throw them in the blue bin. Empty glass mason jars that hold spaghetti sauce, jelly and wine bottles also go in the blue bin.

>> Metal cans. This includes aluminum and steel cans for sodas, soups and cat food.

Put these items all in the blue bin LOOSE, meaning not in plastic bags, which the city doesn't recycle. If you're interested in recycling your plastic bags, supermarkets like Safeway have a bin outside that collect them.

Look for this "Sort it out" display on your way in and out of Costco (plus free stickers to take home).

Look for this "Sort it out" display on your way in and out of Costco (plus free stickers to take home).

If you need reminders, pick up the handy sticker that the city prints out, which is available for free at all Costco warehouses on Oahu. (Look for them next to a display near the entrance or exit).

Now, other municipalities on the mainland accept more items for recycling — for instance, San Francisco accepts all kinds of plastics (No. 1-No. 7) as well as cereal boxes.

Suzanne Jones, assistant chief for the refuse division, says this is because Honolulu chooses recyclables with highest market value. From a practical point of view, she said cereal boxes have more value going to HPOWER, which burns waste to energy.


The sorting line

February 23rd, 2014


A recent visit to RRR Recycling at Campbell Industrial Park was really eye-opening.

It was exciting to see where all our curbside pickup recyclables go — and how they're sorted, baled and then shipped out to be remade into new products. I mean, this is truly recycling in action!

It's a large, dirty and noisy operation — and fast-paced. That conveyer belt goes pretty fast in the beginning. Workers are snatching out plastic bags and items that don't belong from left and right. I saw sneakers, phonebooks and hard-cover books go by (none belong in your blue bin).

Kudos to the 14 hard-working employees who sort this stuff seven days a week.

There are huge mountains of cardboard spilling on to the floor (I'm glad it gets recycled). Huge mounds of newspaper piled on a floor, and on the other side of the sorting line, piles of plastics, glass and aluminum.

The plastics are sorted by No. 1 and No. 2. Then the No. 2 plastics are sorted according to color or white because, apparently, once the color has been added in, the color can't be removed.

Recycling trucks collect the blue bins from more than 150 routes, bringing in an estimated 20,000 tons of recyclable materials a year. These recyclables actually bring the city and county of Honolulu $1.5 million in net revenue, according to Suzanne Jones, assistant chief for the refuse division.

But they could potentially bring in more, if people understood more of what can go in the blue bins.

People seem to understand newspapers go in there (yeah!) plus cardboard (only the corrugated kind). More plastics other than plastic water bottles and beverage containers (which some like to redeem for 5-cents apiece) can go in there, including plastic bottles for shampoo, body wash, vitamins and peanut butter. Glass jars. Milk containers. Wine bottles.

What's cool about all this is that recyclables are also diverted from our landfill.

"Back before the program started, if you really think about it, all of this was going to the landfill," said Manasseh Santos, who works on the sorting line. "With us recycling now, it'l save landfill space. It's a good thing all the way around."

To learn more, visit, which has 30-second video clips and pretty extensive information about recycling. Look out for my post about the blue bin tomorrow.

Newspapers baled and ready to be shipped to China for recycling.

Newspapers baled and ready to be shipped to China for recycling.

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Double rates for rid-a-fridge

January 22nd, 2014


Still procrastinating on plans to get rid of your old fridge?

Hawaii Energy is giving you some motivation — it is now offering $50, double the $25 rebate originally offered for outdated, energy-hogging refrigerators and freezers.

Free curbside pick-up is available.

According to Hawaii Energy, fridges and freezers built prior to 1993 are energy hogs that cost two to three times more to operate than a new EnergyStar model. Taking those old units off the electric grid can save Oahu resident as much as $275 (based on current electricity rates) on the annual bill.

Residents can also donate the rebate to Hawaii Foodbank by simply checking a box on the application provided by the hauler at the time of refrigerator pick-up.

All Oahu residential electric utility customers are eligible. To qualify, fridges and freezers must be full-size and in working condition. Since Hawaii Energy launched its "Bounty Program" in August 2011, approximately 1,792 refrigerators and freezers have been recycled, keeping them out of landfills.

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Community Recycling Day, Waimanalo

January 2nd, 2014


Happy New Year!

Are you clearing out the house for a clean start to the New Year? Hui o Ko‘olaupoko and Oahu Resource Conservation and Development Council are holding the fifth annual Waimanalo Community Clean-up from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. on Saturday, Jan. 11 at Waimanalo Beach Park.

Mark it on your calendar, because it's a great one-stop shop for recycling.

You'll be able to recycle scrap metal (including appliances and propane tanks), regular size tires without rims, cell phones, computers, printer cartridges, batteries, paper, magazines, TVs and all types of plastic.

If there are Waimanalo residents who are unable to haul their recyclables to the park, then curbside pick-up can be arranged. The towing of unwanted vehicles in any condition is also available.

Hui o Ko‘olaupoko is also recruiting volunteers to help sort the recyclables or to form a "Street and Stream Clean-up Team" to pick up litter throughout the ahupua‘a.

"The annual clean-up provides community members a hands-on opportunity to care for the natural resources in the Waimanalo community, including the beauty of Waimanalo's back roads, streams, mountains and bays."

Last year's efforts brought in more than 15,000 pounds of scrap metal, 200 tires, three roll-off bins of trash and bulky items, six pallets of electronic waste, 1,000 pounds of paper and magazines and many more recyclable items.

Donations for Goodwill and the Hawaii Foodbank will also be accepted during the community cleanup.

To sign up as a volunteer, make an appointment for curbside pickup or towing, visit or call Kristen Nalani Mailheau at 381-7202.

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