The process to recycle paper from Hawai‘i County is complex. Hawai‘i Island has a low population density spread over a vast area which makes collecting recyclables costly and resource intensive. Transportation costs are high because Hawai‘i Island is over 3,000 miles from the closest paper manufacturing plant.
Taking into consideration factors such as collection cost, market prices for recycled materials, and importantly greenhouse gas emissions, at this time, it is less environmentally harmful to landfill most types of paper.
The Department of Environmental Management is conducting a Life Cycle Assessment of all of our current and potential recycling programs to make the best management decisions based on science. Recycling paper is a good thing, however if the greenhouse gas emissions contribute more than are saved in our situation, it is not environmentally sound. We look forward to sharing the results with Island residents once the study is complete.
We encourage people to look to the EPA’s Solid Waste Hierarchy which encourages everyone to Reduce and Reuse our materials prior to Recycling. https://www.epa.gov/smm/sustainable-materials-management-non-hazardous-materials-and-waste-management-hierarchy
Beginning in 2013 global markets for recycling became more restrictive and as a result the recyclables collected less valuable. Currently there is a worldwide glut of unwanted recyclables and that has impacted the County of Hawai‘i’s Drop-Off Recycling Program. Due to these changes, the Drop-Off Recycling Program has adapted by concentrating on those commodities that are in demand or can be reused on-island.
The County continues to monitor market conditions and research potential environmentally-friendly and economical alternatives to divert materials from our landfills. We appreciate our residents cooperation in recycling clean and recycling right.
As much as we would like to recycle everything we receive, it’s a matter of market demand. We cannot collect and process materials if there is no one to buy them economically. Similarly, if we include too much “junk” with our materials (such as shredded paper or plastic bags mixed in with the cardboard), we risk losing buyers and/or getting a lower price for our materials which will cost more in the end. Undesirable materials and contaminants are landfilled.
No, all you have to do is rinse your glass containers cleanly and sort into the glass bins. See Drop-Off Recycling for more information.
The County of Hawai`i currently does not have curbside rubbish or recycling pick-up services. There are private entities island-wide that provide this service. Please refer to the yellow pages for rubbish and recycling pick up services.