By 2030, significantly increase the annual quantity of waste converted into new material.

Recycling is the process of converting waste into new materials. For the past several years, the total amount recycled statewide was over 1 million tons. Recycled materials include types of glass, paper, metal, plastic, electronics, batteries, tires, construction and demolition material, as well as organics, such as green waste and food waste.

City and County of Honolulu Recycling

Hawaiʻi County Recycling

Figure 1: City & County of Honolulu Recycling (Note: The City and County of Honolulu compiles its recycling data by calendar year, while Kauaʻi, Maui, and Hawaiʻi Counties compile data by fiscal year.)

Figure 2: Hawaiʻi County Recycling

The City & County of Honolulu completed the islandwide implementation of its curbside recycling program for residents in May 2010. The program includes 160,000 homes, from which approximately 23,000 tons of mixed recyclables are collected every year. The City also accepts many other recyclable materials at its six Refuse and Recycling Convenience Centers and three Transfer Stations throughout the island, including appliances, tires, compressed gas cylinders and vehicle batteries. For condominium properties, the City has a program that reimburses costs associated with the start-up of a recycling program, and provides technical assistance, educational materials, wheeled carts and guidance on establishing collection services.
For the commercial sector, City, State and Federal requirements restrict or prohibit the disposal of several types of recyclable materials, including green waste, cardboard, tires, auto batteries, white goods and scrap metals, effectively diverting these materials to recycling. Specific types of businesses are required to establish recycling programs for certain materials, including bars and restaurants (who must recycle glass containers) office buildings including government offices (who must recycle paper) and businesses including hotels, restaurants, manufacturers and hospitals (how must recycle their food waste). The City offers assistance to businesses to design and implement recycling programs via how-to guides, workshops and on-site support, and it works collaboratively with the State’s Green Business Program.
The City has collaborated with local recycling companies to expand the materials accepted at HI-5 deposit redemption centers. In addition to deposit beverage containers, many of the 60+ HI-5 redemption centers on Oahu now accept several of the same materials that residents are able to put in their blue curbside carts, including plastics #1 and #2, metal cans, newspaper and office paper.
Hawaiʻi County has multiple private businesses involved in a variety of recycling including paper, plastic, metals, appliances, vehicles, tires, batteries, glass and electronics. Because the county does not offer municipal curbside rubbish or recycling pickup, most residents self-haul their rubbish and recyclables to one of the 22 recycling and transfer stations. To encourage more recycling, the County offers “mixed” recycling instead of requiring all the materials to be pre-sorted. Of important note, in 2007, Hawaiʻi County signed a zero waste resolution aimed at reducing the county’s ecological footprint. 
In 2011, the award-winning Pahoa Recycling & Transfer Station was blessed after $3.9 million in renovations. The station features solar power and a catchment water system, along with alcoves to accept various separated materials. In addition to convenient design, recycled materials were used in its construction and landscaping of the site. This station has become a model as the county continues to upgrade its transfer stations around Hawaiʻi Island. 

Kauaʻi County Recycling

Maui County Recycling

Figure 3: Kauaʻi County Recycling (Other than organic data, Kauai County recycling material by type for 2013 and 2014 are not shown on this graph.)

Figure 4: Maui County Recycling

The County of Kauaʻi offers multiple recycling opportunities for residents. Items accepted for recycling include household recyclables (mixed paper, newspaper, cardboard, plastic #1 and plastic #2, aluminum, and steel), appliances and scrap metals, household batteries, motor oil and filters, propane tanks, tires, and electronics. The County does not offer curbside recycling to residents due to lack of processing capacity. The conceptual design of a Materials Recovery Facility that will enable the sorting and processing of a single stream of recyclables is currently underway.
The majority of private businesses have programs in place to manage recyclable materials. To support their efforts, the County offers free technical assistance to businesses that want to improve or implement recycling programs. Additionally, Ordinance 902 restricts the disposal of commercially generated green waste, scrap metal, and cardboard at landfill. These restrictions have successfully reduced the amount of recyclable material disposed at landfill since enforcement began in 2012.
In 2011, the Kauaʻi County Council passed a Zero Waste resolution adopting the mission to reduce the county's ecological footprint. With the right strategy and appropriate education, valuable resources in our waste steam will be diverted for recovery.
Note: Residential recycling is tracked through quantities collected in County contracts for services, and commercial recycling is tracked through a variety of methods including interviews with business.

Bioconversion / Composting

Figure 5: Statewide bioconversion and composting.

The above graph shows the amount of organic matter that was bioconverted or composted in Hawaiʻi County, the City and County of Honolulu and Kauaʻi County. Examples of organics are green waste, food waste, and fats, oils, and grease used for biofuels.

Bioconversion diverts organic materials, such as plant and animal waste, from landfills and wastewater systems and turns into usable products or resources. This includes creating biofuels from fat oils and grease, or making compost from food and green waste. Composting and bioconversion are integral to the Solid Waste Reduction goal, but also contribute to all six Aloha+ Challenge goals, in the following ways: producing biofuels (Clean Energy), producing compost (Local Food), community gardens fed by local compost or backyard composting (Smart Sustainable Communities), reducing the use of pesticides and fertilizers and relying on locally sourced compost (Natural Resource Management), and helping to produce biofuel and composting for commercial purposes and create jobs in this area (Green Workforce and Education.

Learn More and Make a Difference



Maui Nui

Honolulu City & County

  • For information about recycling, refuse, education tools, and more on Oʻahu, visit this link
SDG 12 - Responsible Consumption and Production
Ensure sustainable consumption and production patterns

SDG 17 - Partnerships for the Goals
Revitalize the global partnership for sustainable development