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Mayor Mufi Hannemann today announced the installation of Hawaii’s first on-site school food recycling facility: the Pipeline Worm System at Hokulani Elementary School.


The project will use earthworms to recycle food scraps, and could potentially process all food waste from the school’s campus and cafeteria.


“This is another step forward for our 21st Century Ahupua'a initiative,” Mayor Hannemann said. “Hokulani Elementary School is providing an important and fun opportunity for students to learn about the need to protect our environment and build a sustainable future.”


The worm bin installation is the culmination of two years of worm programs in fourth grade classes, sponsored by the City’s Recycling Teaching Partners program. Hokulani Elementary was selected as a demonstration site because students there are experienced with such “vermicomposting” projects, already had numerous smaller worm bins around their campus, and are ready to take the next step and operate a larger bin.


Vermicomposting is the practice of using worms to aid in the breakdown of organic matter so that valuable plant nutrients can be returned to the soil. Simply put, worms eat our food waste, their castings in turn become food for plants, and plants provide us with the food we eat.


The students have raised 30 pounds of worms, from an original 1.5 pound colony, on public school lunch leftovers and plate scrapings. Fourth graders will manage the entire recycling operation, including feeding, watering, covering the worms, collecting data, and cleaning up. The students will practice teamwork and responsibility while gaining knowledge and hands-on science experience, and diverting waste from the island’s landfill.


Key participants in the program include Hokulani Elementary School Principal Alfredo Carginilla; outstanding fourth grade teachers Laurie Yoshinaga and Naomi Oshiro; and recycling teaching partner Mindy Jaffe from the Waikiki Worm Company.


Mayor Hannemann also thanked all the participating parents and other businesses that have helped make this important project available to the students.


Hokulani Elementary is one of 80 schools supported by the City’s Recycling Teaching Partner Program, which the City’s Department of Environmental Services launched in September 2006 to provide environmental educators who assist Oahu schools in implementing recycling projects.


Schools may request up to $500 for each recycling project proposal, but greater support may be considered for school-wide or broad-scope projects such as the Pipeline Worm Bin at Hokulani Elementary School, which totaled approximately $5000 including the equipment, school installation, school workshops and display at the City’s annual Discover Recycling Fair.


To learn more about vermicomposting and other recycling initiatives, visit





Bill Brennan, Mayor’s Office, 527-6928;

City Recycling Coordinator Suzanne Jones, 768-3200.

Friday, November 21, 2008

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