KIHEI - A handful of Maui Meadows residents expressed optimism and excitement about the county's pilot curbside recycling project that county crews were kick-starting Saturday by distributing green and blue carts in the South Maui neighborhood.
"What a great thing," said Maui Meadows resident Patty Holbrook, who received her two 96-gallon wheeled carts Saturday. "I almost filled (the containers) up. I'm excited. I think it's fabulous.
"What a great job. I mean really, I know it took a lot of thought to do it," she said.
Maui County Solid Waste Division workers Larry Yoshikawa (left) and Allen Sumabat assemble green waste wheeled carts in Maui Meadows on Saturday morning. The carts are being delivered to Maui Meadows and other Kihei residents in preparation for “The 3 Can Plan” pilot curbside recycling program beginning Aug. 13. Along with green carts, crews also are delivering blue carts that will be for collecting recyclable materials.
The Maui News / MELISSA TANJI photo
Maui County's program, "The 3 Can Plan," has residents using three carts - brown/gray for rubbish, which they already have; green for green waste and blue for mixed recyclables. The green and blue carts will be serviced every other week. The brown/gray general rubbish cart will be serviced once a week.
Those participating in the first phase are Maui Meadows residents as well as those between Hooana Street and Kukui Mall, excluding Piilani Village, Keonekai and Puuhoolai streets.
"I think it might be pretty good," said Maui Meadows resident Troy Nielsen as he was taking his morning walk in the neighborhood Saturday.
Beginning Aug.13, Nielsen will get only one general trash pickup per week, versus the current two. That didn't bother him.
He said that with the green bin for green waste he will be able to unload his grass trimmings and other yard scraps, which often fills up his regular garbage bin.
"I think it might help," Nielsen said.
Fellow resident Archeleen "Archie" Hurst said: "We're glad to have something new and better."
Even though she will have to sort through her trash, she doesn't mind the extra duties.
"I don't think of it as hard work," Hurst said, noting that she's retired.
The 3 Can Plan pilot project is being launched the week of Aug. 13; the county has been delivering the green and blue bins to residents to prepare for the project. Other deliveries are scheduled Saturday and Aug. 4.
A total of about 1,650 customers on Refuse Route 5 will be taking part in the project, Maui County Solid Waste Division officials said.
Residents are not to place their green and blue carts out until the scheduled pickups begin, county officials said.
Those receiving the bins and all other refuse customers will not pay more for the project, county officials said. The funds for the project have come from the county fiscal year 2012 general fund. The Maui County Council approved $440,000 for the project, most of which will go to purchasing carts.
Officials said that they will track the ongoing expenses for phase one of the project. The Department of Environmental Management will use information gathered in the pilot project as a planning tool for expanding the program countywide.
On Oahu, a curbside recycling pilot program began in 2007 or 2008 and has expanded to most of the island, said Marcus Owens, spokesman for the City & County of Honolulu's Environmental Services Department.
He said the program is doing "very good" and a lot of green waste is being captured, although there are not too many recyclables, including HI5 containers, in the mix of trash.
Owens said that people are probably taking their HI5 containers to a redemption center instead.
He said 160,000 residences have curbside recycling, with 20,000 not participating. The latter group is served by manual pickups. The county shortly will be rolling out a curbside recycling program for the Haleiwa and Sunset Beach communities on the North Shore.
Owens said the Maui program will be "a change of culture, a change of habit," which can be assisted by education.
Maui County officials say that with curbside recycling the county can capture resources, save landfill space and create compost to be used in the community.
In the U.S., people throw away or burn $11 billion in resources a year, according to government officials. They said recycling can be considered an energy savings, a water savings, a resource recovery, a job-creation source and an effort to help the environment.
"We are very excited about phase one of the 3 Can Plan and believe that the rest of the county is looking forward to it expanding," said Hana Steel, county recycling coordinator. Besides reducing the impact at county landfills "we will be providing a valuable service to those who might not be recycling but would like to if it was easier for them to do so."
Another Maui Meadows resident, Karin Carlson, said she's "jazzed" about the program. When the program begins, she will be able to put her recyclable materials into the bins and to turn some of her kitchen waste into compost, instead of making her own compost pile in her yard, which her husband didn't want.
Along with the blue and green bins, county crews also are delivering a kitchen compost caddy to handle, fruit peels, stems, seeds, pineapple tops and corncobs, and coffee grinds, filters and tea bags. Items from the green kitchen caddy should be placed in the larger green bin.
"I like the concept," Carlson said of the program, adding that she still will take her HI5 recyclables to the redemption center herself to receive 5 cents in return for each item. She saves that money to tip those at the carwash.
Carlson, a board member of the Maui Meadows Neighborhood Association, said that county officials have consulted them about the program. Among the issues raised by the association were the need for more bins for green waste and why glass could not be recycled in the blue bins.
According to information from the county, glass cannot be placed with other recyclable materials because glass may break and contaminate other recyclable materials. Paper and plastic manufacturers do not want glass shards in their commodities.
The county recommends taking glass to a recycling and redemption center.
While most Maui Meadows residents interviewed were pleased with the program, Laurence Christopher was critical of the plan, noting that the program will not be able to recycle glass and biodegradable plastic bags in its recycle bins.
"What are we supposed to do with it?" he asked.
Items such as the biodegradable plastic bags and other biodegradable food containers should be placed in the brown/gray general rubbish cart. They are not permitted in the green cart because the compost facility is not permitted to process these items, the county said.
The County's Recycling Section will be tracking the program and said the expected tons of items collected will be scaled and identified.
Visual inspections will be made of loads taken to the processors, which include Maui EKO Compost. The company will process yard trimmings and select kitchen waste for free. Recyclables will be taken to a materials recovery facility for recycling.
Crews also will monitor carts at the curb.
There are no penalties if one's green or blue carts are contaminated, but they could be left at the curb, the county said. There may be an "Opalagies" tag on the cart (opala means trash in Hawaiian), which will tell the resident the reason the cart was not picked up.
Currently, there are no laws governing green waste or recyclable materials being placed into the brown/gray/blue rubbish carts. County officials do ask for the cooperation of residents in placing waste in the appropriate carts.
* Melissa Tanji can be reached at email@example.com.
The green cart.
For leaves and grass trimmings; tree and hedge trimmings; palm fronds (cut to fit); flowers and houseplants; Christmas trees (cut to fit); fibrous vegetables and fruit peelings; rinds, pits, skins and seeds; pineapple tops and corncobs; and coffee grinds, filters and tea bags.
The blue cart.
For cardboard (flattened); paper bags; newspapers; magazines and office paper; junk mail and envelopes; milk and juice cartons; plastics Nos. 1 and 2, the most common types of plastic containers; dairy tubs and lids; metal food cans; and aluminum cans, foil and trays.
Not to go in blue/green carts.
Plastic bags; glass; light bulbs; metal; rocks, dirt and gravel; eggs and eggshells; fats, grease, lard and oils; dairy products; grains and beans; meat, fish scraps or bones; pet waste or cat litter; lumber (treated or painted); food-soiled paper; towels, paper plates, pizza boxes; biodegradable food containers; phone books; Styrofoam; peanuts; shredded paper; and batteries and electronics.
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Go to the website at www.mauicounty.gov/recycle or call the Curbside Call Center Hotline at 270-7700.