Total Solid Waste Reduction
Recovering waste that would otherwise end up in our landfills benefits our Islands by preserving our environment, creating jobs for local workers and economic opportunities for local business, and allows us to re-purpose materials for a second life right here in Hawaiʻi, such as green waste for composting or mulch. The vast majority of materials for recycling go outside of the state of Hawaiʻi (e.g. paper and plastics). Landfill diversion also has global environmental benefits by reducing the need to extract raw materials from mines, such as aluminum, and decreases the amount of methane gas released into our atmosphere as waste decomposes. According to the EPA, methane is the second most prevalent greenhouse gas emitted in the United States from human activities. Behind industry (e.g. natural gas and petroleum systems) and agriculture sources (e.g. domestic livestock, such as cattle which produce methane as part of its normal digestive process), landfills are the third largest source of methane emissions in the U.S., which has a significant impact on climate change.
The state definition of waste reduction specifically excluded "incineration and landfill" but was silent on"waste-to-energy". The Measures Team discussed this and agreed that the "primary indicator" for the Total Solid Waste Dashboard home page would not include H-Power; currently this is approximately 40% statewide. The second chart, if you click on this Dashboard, includes H-Power - which brings the statewide waste reduction up to approximately 70%.
Gaps in data exist for Total Solid Waste Reduction, since some categories are difficult to measure, such as residential reuse (think of when you save a jar for leftovers) and home composting.
Total Solid Waste Reduction With H-Power
When including the City and County of Honolulu’s H-POWER Waste-to Energy facility, the state’s total solid waste reduction increases to nearly 70%. Additionally, H-POWER reduces the weight of waste by 75% and the volume of waste by 90%. This has extended the life of Oahu’s landfill by saving hundreds of acres of landfill space.
When it comes to energy, H-POWER is capable of processing up to 3,000 tons per day of municipal solid waste and can generate up to 70 megawatts of electricity, enough to fulfill about 10% of Oahu’s electricity needs. The electricity H-POWER produces also displaces the need to import about 30 million gallons of petroleum per year.
Quick fact: 70 megawatts of electricity is enough to power 60,000 homes.
Note: The City and County of Honolulu compiles its solid waste data by calendar year, while Kauai, Maui, and Hawaii Counties compile data by fiscal year.
Note: The EPA developed a hierarchy to rank the most environmentally sound strategies for managing municipal solid waste. This hierarchy places emphasis on reducing, reusing, and recycling the majority of waste. The EPA does not include incineration in its definition for solid waste reduction, hence why we’ve shown this graph, which includes H-POWER, separately from the Total Solid Waste Reduction graph.
More information on the EPA waste hierarchy can be found online: http://www.epa.gov/waste/nonhaz/municipal/hierarchy.htm
Solid Waste Reduction by County
The above graph shows each county’s solid waste reduction in percentages.
- The City and County of Honolulu compiles its solid waste data by calendar year, while Kauai, Maui, and Hawaii Counties compile data by fiscal year. The Honolulu data shown in this graph is for calendar years 2010 - 2016.
- Maui County Data for 2012, 2014, 2015 and 2016 is not available at this time.
- City and County of Honolulu Data does not include H-POWER.
- Kauai County Data for 2010 – 2012 is based on incomplete data.
Learn More and Make a Difference
What You Can Do
We can all do our part to reduce waste—from buying less to re-purposing items, or recycling more. Here are just a few tips to get you started.
- Before making a purchase, ask if you “need” or “want” the item.
- Repair items rather than replacing them with something new.
- Buy products in bulk with reusable containers to reduce packaging waste.
- Use reusable containers, such as water bottles, rather than single use containers.
- Re-use Hawaii is a non-profit organization that diverts tons of reusable building material from landfills each week and makes this material—from doors and sinks, to lumber and lamps—available to the public. Their Kakaako, Oahu warehouse is open six days a week. http://www.reusehawaii.org
- Purchase lightly used items at local thrift shops, and drop off your own goods.
- Find creative ways to transform old stuff into something new, or look for items that have already made the transformation, like bags made from plastic containers.
- On Oahu, donate any bike with good, usable parts to the Kalihi Valley Instructional Bike Exchange (K-VIBE), a nonprofit bicycle shop that serves as an intervention program for the at-risk youth of Kalihi Valley. Drop off bikes when the center is open. 1638 Kamehameha IV Road. 791-9480, k-vibe.blogspot.com
- Green your workplace by setting up convenient recycling tactics, such as a bin for papers only used on one side.
- Create a backyard compost. There are many different methods that work for a variety of different living situations. Here are a few local resources: http://www.opala.org/solid_waste/pdfs/backyard_composting.pdf
- Want to compost, but live in an apartment? Urban composting is possible. http://webecoist.momtastic.com/2009/02/18/how-to-compost-in-an-apartment-or-urban-living-space/
- Interested in vermicomposting, otherwise known as composting with worms? Here are a couple of Hawaii suppliers: http://kokuaworms.com/ http://www.hawaiirainbowworms.com
Join a local organization involved in waste reduction
- Kokua Hawaii Foundation’s Plastic Free Hawaii Program provides resources, tools, and trainings to educate schools, business partners, and community members about the environmental and health benefits of going plastic free. http://kokuahawaiifoundation.org/pfh
- Surfrider Foundation’s Rise Against Plastics Campaign reduces plastic waste by raising awareness and taking action. The nonprofit has local chapters in Hilo, Kona, Kauai, Maui and Oahu. http://www.surfrider.org/programs/entry/rise-above-plastics
- Sustainable Coastlines Hawaii holds regular beach clean-ups, as well as recruits and trains volunteers , educates schools and community groups on solutions for reducing plastic pollution. http://sustainablecoastlineshawaii.org
- The State of Hawaii Department of Health, Solid & Hazardous Waste Branch provides information about solid waste rules, links to permit applications and instructions, as well as fact sheets and publications with information on public issues and instructions for responsible ways to reduce, recycle, and dispose of specific waste materials. http://health.hawaii.gov/shwb/solid-waste/
- The Environmental Protection Agency, West Coast Climate and Materials Management Forum is an EPA-led partnership of western cities and states that are developing and sharing ways to integrate lifecycle materials management policies and practices into climate actions. http://yosemite.epa.gov/R10/ecocomm.nsf/climate+change/wccmmf
- The US Environmental Protection Agency provides a plethora of information on Solid Waste. http://www.epa.gov/solidwaste/
- Kauai County, Public Works, Division of Solid Waste provides information about Kauai’s solid waste program. http://www.kauai.gov/PublicWorks/SolidWaste
- Find out more about Kauai County’s zero waste resolution. http://www.kauai.gov/Portals/0/PW_Recycling/ZeroWasteResolution_2011-73.pdf
- Zero Waste Kauai focuses on educating the public and community leaders on the benefits of a zero waste philosophy and helps organizations put on zero waste events. http://zerowastekauai.net
- City and County of Honolulu, Department of Environmental Services provides information about Oahu’s solid waste program, as well as many educational tools and resources within their learning center, and online resource library. http://www.opala.org/
- Maui County, Department of Environmental Management, Division of Solid Waste - provides information about Maui’s solid waste program. http://co.maui.hi.us/index.aspx?NID=1017
- Find out more about Maui County’s zero waste campaign. http://zerowastemaui.net
- County of Hawaii, Department of Environmental Management, Solid Waste Division provides information about Hawaii’s solid waste program. www.HawaiiZeroWaste.org