By PETER SUR
Tribune-Herald staff writer
A “pay as you throw” waste disposal proposal is being recycled before the Hawaii County Council, although chances are slim it will pass into law.
Under a bill passed by the inaugural Hawaii High School County Council that is being introduced by Councilwoman Brittany Smart, any person who deposits any amount of trash at a county landfill or transfer station will be charged the existing landfill disposal rate of $85 per ton.
That works out to 4.25 cents per pound, or $1.06 per 25-pound bag of trash.
The bill has been waived to the full council, so lawmakers could discuss it as early as the next meeting, to be held Sept. 19 at the West Hawaii Civic Center. It has not been placed on any agenda as of Wednesday.
Smart, chairwoman of the Environmental Management Committee, was not in favor of the bill and said that it could lead to illegal dumping.
“I understand the concept. I’m in favor of bringing revenue for the Department” (of Environmental Management) to offset the cost of disposing of the island’s solid waste. But she predicted that if the bill passes, “I don’t think we’re going to be very successful” in curbing waste.
“I think it probably will end up costing even more money” in the form of cleaning up illegal dumping if a pay-as-you-throw system is implemented, Smart said, instead preferring some sort of cash incentive for recycling.
It was introduced by Maka‘ala Gahan, a member of the inaugural Hawaii High School County Council, and approved in May. Gahan has since graduated from Kamehameha Schools Hawaii; efforts to reach him were unsuccessful.
The bill was intended to be presented to the County Council at the same time lawmakers considered other resolutions passed by the high school council, but it was held over so the Department of Environmental Management could review it, Smart said.
Council Chairman Dominic Yagong offered to handle the resolutions passed by the high school council, and Smart was to be responsible for the lone bill, she said, explaining why she is introducing a bill that she may oppose.
The Department of Environmental Management did not respond to a request for comment on the bill. Mayor Billy Kenoi and several other council members could not be reached for comment, but Kenoi made it clear in 2009 that his administration is not was not in favor of “pay as you throw.”
The idea first surfaced in August 2009 as one of several options for the department in the draft Integrated Solid Waste Management Plan.
In November, Environmental Management Director Lono Tyson floated plans for new charges and fee increases to make the department more financially self-sufficient. One of the proposals in the ISWMP that generated the most controversy was the “pay as you throw” plan.
After a public outcry, Kenoi called a press conference to explain that the administration had no intention of implementing the proposal.
“It’s not my proposal, (not) this administration’s proposal. We’re not implementing this proposal. We’re not planning to impose a fee on residents in this incredibly challenging economic environment at this point in time,” Kenoi said in December 2009. He did not pronounce the idea dead on arrival, but said that if it were to be considered as a waste reduction measure, it would be “a ways off.”
The current Hawaii County Code says that the Solid Waste Division would send out monthly bills to users of the landfill, but the bill under consideration doesn’t spell out how that would work for people who drop off their ‘opala at the transfer stations. Nor does the bill say how the bags would be weighed.
Email Peter Sur at firstname.lastname@example.org.