A landfill is necessary, but it can be significantly downsized, its environmental impacts reduced, and its costs to build and operate decreased if the county puts in place a well designed zero waste management system that encourages the 3R’s: Reduce, ReUse and Recycle. We need to implement the County’s Integrated Solid Waste Management Plan, which includes:
1. A Pay As You Throw (PAYT) framework where the more you throw away, the more you pay (currently being implemented);
2. Curbside recycling collection and the construction of a Materials Recovery Facility (MRF) where recycled items are sorted and baled into commodities to be sold (full funding rejected in recent budget decision making);
3. Laws that would expand the existing ordinance banning cardboard from the landfill to include other commercial recyclables, new laws that ban styrofoam and require contractors to create and follow demolition and construction waste plans.
4. An education/outreach program that shows people how to reduce, reuse, and recycle.
The County needs to make recycling and reuse more convenient and financially rewarding by providing Solid Waste Division with adequate resources to aggressively implement and promote diversion programs resources comparable to those dedicated to disposal. Most people on Kauai want to recycle. By providing a 3R system, we can transform the desire to recycle into actual recycling behavior.
Waste to Energy (“WTE”) is not practical or feasible for Kauai’s small population. Some communities have gone bankrupt using Waste to Energy. WTE discourages recycling and creates far fewer jobs than a program focused on the zero waste strategies of Reduce, ReUse and Recycle.
I have worked to establish a 3R system on Kauai for the last 40 years. As mayor, I started the first recycling and composting projects and developed the first solid waste plan that was based on the 3Rs. I’ve been working to implement that plan ever since.