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Plans for Hawaii island compost facility postponed

KAILUA-KONA, Hawaii (AP) — Development of a $10.5 million facility on Hawaii island to make compost using green waste and food waste has been postponed because of a shortage of the key components.

Hawaii County’s contract signed in 2016 with Hawaiian Earth Recycling will wait for a new administration to include the compost facility in the county’s solid waste plans, West Hawaii Today reported Thursday.

The plan is now on hold after the county and Hawaiian Earth Recycling signed a six-month “act of god” abeyance because of the coronavirus pandemic.

They jointly suspended the second phase of the project, which involves building the compost facility, Environmental Management Director Bill Kucharski said.

Officials said they lack food waste to make the material cook to the high temperature required for the composting process.

The shortage involves more than the closure of hotels, restaurants and schools expected to provide the material. Hog farmers have said for more than a decade they hold contracts for the food waste from those sources as an essential component of raising their product.

Environmental Management Commissioner Jon Olson said Wednesday that the farmers addressed the Solid Waste Advisory Committee on the issue in 2002, and repeated the point to the 2019 committee.

“We were told back then we weren’t going to get hold of the food waste because it was already spoken for,” Olson said.

Kucharski said there is also a shortage of green waste brought to county disposal sites, which is ground for mulch and offered for free or at a reduced loading cost.