Council passes resolution urging collaboration on waste reduction strategies

The Hawaii County Council passed a resolution urging county agencies to work together to reduce waste and generate more clean energy.

Resolution 301 passed through several committees with widespread support from council members before arriving before the council Wednesday for a final vote.

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The final text of the resolution urges the directors of the departments of Environmental Management and Research and Development to collaborate on developing new waste reduction technologies and find new alternative power sources for the island.

Although the resolution has been popular among council members, it changed somewhat in response to criticism from members of the public. The version of the resolution that passed Wednesday — the second of two drafts created while it was going through committees — includes language that specifically excludes waste incineration as a viable waste management strategy.

The previous version of the resolution sparked concern from members of the public that the conflation of “waste management” and “alternative energy” implied the possible creation of a waste-to-energy plant that incinerates waste to generate power. A similar plant was considered by the county in 2012, but ultimately abandoned after public outcry.

Public testifiers made similar complaints about the final version of the resolution. Environmental activist Koohan Paik-Mander said she was “disturbed” that the language regarding incineration was limited to a parenthetical phrase in the measure’s preamble instead of being included in its operative clauses.

Paik-Mander, and other testifiers, said she thinks the resolution is redundant to the county’s 2009 Zero Waste Plan, which set a goal of reducing the county’s ecological footprint, and would impede the implementation of that plan.

“The Zero Waste Plan is very good,” Paik-Mander said. “This resolution would pre-empt that.”

Councilwoman Karen Eoff disagreed, saying the resolution seems compatible with the Zero Waste Plan and can be implemented in tandem with it.

Councilwoman Valerie Poindexter pointed out that the resolution is nonbinding, merely “strongly urging” the relevant departments to prioritize finding solutions to the county’s waste problems.

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“We’re just giving them the go-ahead to go and investigate our options and report back to us,” said Councilman Tim Richards, who introduced the measure.

Email Michael Brestovansky at mbrestovansky@hawaiitribune-herald.com.

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