Transfer station waste limits likely to be delayed

  • The Hilo transfer station. (Tribune-Herald file photo)

A series of new limits to how much waste can be disposed of at the county’s transfer stations will likely be rolling out later than expected.

The county Department of Environmental Management’s Solid Waste Division is planning to roll out a series of changes limiting the amount of waste a person can discard at county Recycling and Transfer Stations at any given time. But while those changes were originally planned to go into effect on March 1, solid waste deputy chief Mike Kaha said Tuesday that a later start date is likely.

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While Kaha said the changes could possibly still go into effect in March, that would probably not be sufficient time to notify the public of the changes beforehand.

“I thought it would just be safer to say sometime in April,” Kaha said.

The later date was revealed at a public information session on Tuesday, the latest in a series of meetings being held around the island discussing the changes. Tuesday’s meeting, held in Hilo, was sparsely attended but generated some discussion.

The upcoming changes limit the amount of waste that can be disposed of at a transfer station to three cubic yards per day. While Kaha said that three cubic yards — about the carrying capacity of a pickup truck’s flatbed — should be more than sufficient for average residents, some attendees were concerned that the new limit, which was intended to stop abuse by commercial haulers, will have unforeseen consequences.

One attendee said she doesn’t use her own car to carry garbage to the transfer station, but uses the professional vehicle of her boyfriend, a commercial hauler. Kaha said that she may still be allowed to do so, but county employees at the transfer station will have to check the driver, the vehicle and the load in order to ascertain that the transfer stations are not being misused.

“We’re not trying to be stormtroopers here,” Kaha said. “We don’t want to give you a hard time, we just need to make sure people are using these properly.”

The new rule changes will also limit the number of “white goods” — large appliances — disposed of at transfer stations to one per person per day, reduces the operating hours for recycling services to between 8 a.m. and 4 p.m. and will require users to separate “green waste,” or biological waste, from regular trash.

Kaha said the changes are primarily because people would dump excessive waste at the transfer stations in the early or late hours of the day, when employees were not present, which would overwhelm the capacity of the trailers hauling waste to the West Hawaii Landfill.

While the county is working on updating the its Solid Waste Management Plan, Kaha said the most cost-effective short-term solution to the county’s recycling problems is to properly utilize the county’s current facilities to maximize their use.

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“It’s more cost beneficial for us to send more waste to West Hawaii than to send less,” Kaha said. “We’re already paying for it, so it’s better if we can use that facility to its full potential.”

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

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