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(Mon., Nov. 14, 2011) – The City and County of Honolulu is on a mission to improve the island, one trashcan at a time. Actually, three carts at a time as in the gray, green and blue carts in the driveways of approximately 160,000 households participating in the City’s curbside program.


         Oahu residents are diverting roughly half of targeted recyclables through the City’s Curbside Recycling Program, according to a recent evaluation of the program. Last year, these recyclables net the City $1.5 million.


      Honolulu is already among the top cities in the country for landfill diversion rates, ranked fourth in the nation,” Mayor Peter Carlisle said. “Improving the curbside recycling program’s effectiveness can help further these efforts, and as an island community, we can and need to do more.”


         The Cascadia Consulting Group helped the City collect and analyze data on the amounts of green waste and mixed recyclables still being disposed, which is essential information for assessing the potential of the recycling program. The program’s objectives are to increase recovery rates of recyclable materials as well as decrease contamination (unacceptable materials in recycling carts).


         “We’d like to move to a 75 percent recovery rate,” said Tim Steinberger, director of the City’s Department of Environmental Services (ENV).


         The City began its curbside recycling program in November 2007 with pilot programs in Mililani and Hawaii Kai and completed island-wide implementation in May 2010. The system recovered and recycled more than 71,000 tons (53,000 tons of green waste and 18,000 tons of mixed recyclables) last year.


         Oahu’s curbside recycling contributes a full six percent to the overall reduction of municipal solid waste going to the landfill. While these rates are notable, the Cascadia study found that households put significant amounts of mixed recyclables in the gray refuse carts.


         “The curbside recycling program has a green waste capture rate of 77 percent, which is impressively high,” Steinberger said. “We want to increase the capture rates for the mixed recyclables from 52 to 75 percent, to be on par with some of the nation’s greenest communities.”


         By reaching 75 percent, the City would divert an additional 8,000 tons from the landfill and increase its revenue return by more than $500,000 annually.


         “We’ll see the City and County of Honolulu reach its goal of 75 percent diversion when about 85 percent of residents are putting 90 percent of their recyclables in the blue cart. It’s an ambitious goal but attainable, given the progress the community has made so far,” said Charlie Scott, Cascadia principal.


         Market research will assess community behavior related to the curbside program and the City will use the results to adjust the program to increase public participation. The survey information will also be used to develop a public education campaign aimed at improving day-to-day recycling and waste disposal behaviors.


         For a copy of the report, go to  and click on Resource Library, Technical Studies.





Contact:  Tim Steinberger, ENV Director, 768-3486