Landscape companies to be charged green waste disposal fees

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Following a four-month reprieve, Hawaii County has set July 1 as the date commercial haulers must register and pay tipping fees to dump green waste at the Puuanahulu and Hilo landfills rather than dumping it for free at transfer stations.

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Following a four-month reprieve, Hawaii County has set July 1 as the date commercial haulers must register and pay tipping fees to dump green waste at the Puuanahulu and Hilo landfills rather than dumping it for free at transfer stations.

The fee, which has been on the books since 2005, was postponed in March following an outcry from commercial green-waste haulers. The haulers said the new fee took them by surprise and they hadn’t had a chance to adjust their prices or inform their customers about the change.

County officials have been meeting with haulers in the meantime, but some landscape companies say the fee was considered a done deal, and there really was no back-and-forth or any attempt at compromise on the county’s part.

“There’s been no public forum to bring us all to the table to come up with solutions,” Kailua-Kona landscaper Chris Yeaton said Friday.

The Kealakehe transfer station became the flash point of the dispute, because many landscape companies using that transfer station are balking at the 30-mile drive on busy Queen Kaahumanu Highway to the Puuanahulu landfill. The policy, once it takes effect, will apply countywide, requiring the haulers to purchase a $25 disposal permit and pay $21.25 per ton to dump the green waste at either Puuanahulu or the Hilo landfill.

The new fee will not affect individual residents or homeowners who will continue to be allowed to drop off residential green waste free at seven transfer stations around the island: Hilo, Puuanahulu, Kealakehe, Keei, Puako, Pahoa and Keaau. Free mulch and free assisted mechanical loading will remain available to both residents and businesses at the West Hawaii Organics Facility and at the East Hawaii Organics Facility. Free mulch and free assisted mechanical loading of small loads are available at the Kealakehe Recycling and Transfer Station, with a small fee for assistance with larger loads.

Yeaton calls the fee “non-sustainable,” and worries the small landscape companies won’t be able to afford it.

The county currently pays more than $1.8 million a year to recycle green waste into mulch that is then distributed free to the community. The new tipping fee is expected to raise more than $500,000 a year to help finance an expansion of organics recycling services islandwide, including establishing new green-waste drop-off locations at additional transfer stations.

Businesses will be required to obtain a Solid Waste Facility Disposal Permit prior to recycling green waste at the county organics facilities.

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Applications are available online at hawaiizerowaste.org, at the county scale houses or by calling the Solid Waste Office at 961-8270.

Email Nancy Cook Lauer at ncook-lauer@westhawaiitoday.com.

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