A new report out about recycling in Hawaii shows that recycling has gone up since the state started reimbursing people for returning beverage bottles in 2005.
Before the bottle deposit program was instituted, the landfill diversion rate was 41%, but it’s now  72%, according to hawaiibusiness.com. That percentage includes other items diverted from landfills, but the beverage program clearly has contributed.
And Hawaiians are finding new uses for many types of recycled goods. Green waste is being turned into mulch, glass is being used to fill potholes and build new roads and paper fiber is being used by local packing companies as filler material. When materials can’t be recycled in Hawaii, they must be shipped at least 2,500 miles away to Asia or to the mainland.
According to the publication, “On Oahu, curbside pickup has made a huge difference in diverting trash away from the landfill. After pilot programs starting in 2007, islandwide curbside recycling and green-waste programs were in full operation in 2010 on Oahu. In its first full year, the program collected 18,000 tons of mixed recyclables and 53,000 tons of green waste, representing a 6 percent reduction in municipal solid waste going to Oahu’s landfill, according to Honolulu County’s recycling office.”
Last year, 52 percent of all recyclables were placed in Honolulu’s blue bins. Honolulu’s recycling office estimates the county can earn another $500,000 annually if it can increase the curbside recycling rate to 75 percent.
Local businesses have been making use of the recyclables. Menehune Magic takes green waste from Oahu’s green bin curbside pickup and produces compost for sale under the “Hawaiian Earth Products” label. Crushed glass is turned into “glassphalt” by Grace Pacific. Battery Bill’s reuses car batteries, EcoFeed Inc. uses food for compost and to Hawaii Mail Box Services reuses packing peanuts.