Kauai Waste Issues

SUBHEAD: Some issues regarding waste management and recycling on Kauai.  

By Michaella Mintoff (misha@hawaii.rr.com) on 21 September 2009 - 

Image above: "Dead Star" sculture. Discarded batteries conveys message of recycling. From http://www.ecofriend.org/entry/eco-art-the-dead-star-a-ball-of-batteries-forms-an-explosive-visual  

Issue #1
Fluorescent light bulbs save a great amount of energy, yes, BUT they contain mercury, which is a poison, and they are a hazard when they break and when they burn out. They need to be disposed of as a hazardous waste. Right now, according to Alison from our County Waste management, Home Depot has agreed to recycle them. Please recycle and keep our land and water clean!  

Issue #2
Alkaline batteries are also a hazardous waste. At this point no one recycles them here. Please do not throw them away however. If you can, collect them for the county's once-a-year Summer Hazardous waste disposal initiative. It would be heavily advertised when the time comes or you can call the county to find out when and where it will be.

 Issue #3 
 This Wednesday (9/23/09) the County Council will be discussing an ordinance (apparently the mayor is very passionate about it) that would ban plastic shopping bags, which create a waste problem both on land and sea. Instead, businesses would be required to provide either paper or biodegradable bags, for which the consumer will be charged, or anyone can bring their own shopping bags.

Some question just how useful that small recycling effort would be because, if I understood correctly from the county spokesperson "it would raise the price for doing business". Nevertheless, using plastic shopping bags, made of oil and natural gas, is a sheer waste and a bad habit we have acquired thanks mainly to two big-business companies, Kroger and Safeway, which mass-introduced plastic bags in 1982 as a cheaper alternative. Paper, plastic or biodegradable all have bad points, the chief one the energy used to produce/recycle them.

The only positive alternative that I know of (aside from reducing your shopping and growing more of your own food) is the cloth- and rope- shopping bags your mother used. Keep several in your car and you shopping needs are taken care of for many years to come. If you do use paper, here are some ways to recycle the bags after they are torn: Wet them and give them to your worm-factory to munch on, or put them in your composting bin, or, if you are planting any shrubs or trees in your yard, line the hole with them or mix with the soil--they retain water and decompose wonderfully in the soil.

 Issue #4
The mayor is very happy to have finally decided the location of the new landfill. However, it is again on the South side, not that far from Kekaha, in the middle of the coffee plantation in Kalaheo/EleEle. If anyone has any insight on this issue and the practical/political reasoning behind it, I would love to hear it. For information on recycling and any questions you may have about waste management, you can call the county's Solid Waste management office at 241-4839.

1 comment :

Juan Wilson said...

Aloha Michaella,

When I lived in rural western New York, in Chautauqua County, waste haulers in Buffalo wanted to start a dump next to an Amish farm in order to get rid of construction and commercial waste. Our County Executive (like our mayor) wanted to make income by bringing medical and powerplant low-level radioactive material into our county landfill.

Chautauqua residents really had to scramble to stop those two projects int their tracks.

I had to a lot about landfill liners and how fragile they are. The liners are under attack by the hellacious cocktail of residue chemicals that find there way to the bottom of the landfill (Drano, insecticide, battery acids, and industrial solvents to name a few).

The cocktail ponds with rainwater and transforms plastics, organic garbage, Pampers and other trash before it eventually chews its way through the thin liner. Then it goes to work on the clay or other impermiable layer compacted underneath. This all may take 30 or 40 years.

But Eventually the cocktail sludge can get through the lanfill defenses and work its way to the water table underneath.

Bottom-line: Landfill are temporary storage. Someday we'll be drinking whatever leaches out of it.

I worry that placing a new landfill in the middle of productive agricultural land will one day be seen as bad planning. It would sem to me that a better location for the landfill would be nearer the center of the source of the trash.

The westside of Kauai seems gets all the enviro-hazards... GMO's, PMRF, powerplant, landfill, etc. What's with that?


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