Possible solutions to Honolulu’s glass recycling setback

Both the city and the state are exploring ways to prevent a hundred tons of glass from being dumped in the landfill each week.

Last week, KHON2’s Always Investigating revealed the city had slashed payments to recyclers who collected heavier glass bottles and containers and sent them to the mainland. The cut meant recyclers could no longer afford to pick up glass from hotels, bars and restaurants and businesses were forced to put them in the trash instead.

So where does that city payment come from? One-and-a-half-cents is collected from each glass bottle purchased. But that fee has been the same for more than 20 years while the cost of shipping glass has tripled and its value has tanked.

Some think the fee just has to go up. “At the city council, we can in a matter of months impose the fee, but obviously a lot of homework is going to be devoted to it, how much is appropriate, where it can go, that sort of thing,” said Honolulu City Council member Stanley Chang.

Fee hikes have hit a roadblock in the state legislature for years, thanks in part to industry pushback.

The director of the Hawaii Food Industry Association says it’s an added cost to consumers and Hawaii should instead figure out how to recycle locally.

To that end, the state put out a request for proposals to study things to do with the glass on-island instead of shipping it away, like turning it into sand, or using it in asphalt or as building-fill material.

Bids are due July 21.

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