Monday, August 17, 2009


BAG O’ CATS: The gushing over Sunday’s piece by Mayor Bernard Carvalho’s “Five magic words: I don’t need a bag” commentary in the local newspaper- one we suspect was ghost-written by his top aide and mouthpiece Beth Tokioka- flooded cyberspace yesterday.

“Ditto!!” wrote one environmental activist. “To all of us, we ARE making a difference and this mayor is an example of together, we can!! I'm bowled over!!”

Another couldn’t contain herself saying “OMG thank you thank you thank you thank you and thank you!”.

And of course refusing those nasty and often deadly non-biodegradables floating petro-products is something anyone with a cloth bag can and should do as Diana LaBedz letter today reiterates.

But for the politically astute it’s what Carvalho didn’t say that sticks out like a shearwater’s plastic-distended belly- a promise to support and sign the bill set for public hearing on Wednesday that would ban stores from distributing those nasty pollutants.

As a matter of fact for the more cynical among us it might seem like Carvalho is indeed saying that the real solution is not in the legislation introduced by Tim Bynum and Lani Kawahara but solely in people refusing to accept them and instead bringing their own bags.

Yeah- that’ll work... it’s worked so well that despite years of campaigns by groups like LaBenz’s Surfrider Foundation the bags are more ubiquitous and causing more destruction than ever.

Gee, it couldn’t be because businesses who filled Carvalho’s campaign coffers last November are howling over the prospect of spending a few cents more on the biodegradable bags that are now or soon to be required on Maui, in San Francisco and in any growing number of jurisdictions across the country.

The suspicions are well founded. Carvalho recently has been accused of trying to sabotage the curbside recycling part of the county’s solid waste reform efforts using the county’s standard “fire, ready, aim” operating procedure to institute a “pilot” curbside recycling program in Lihu`e despite the fact that there is no materials recovery facility or MRF yet to accommodate the separation of those collected recyclables.

Why? Well that’s because, according to the administrations solid waste coordinator Troy Tanegawa, purchasing the bins with already appropriated monies was “the low hanging fruit” of recycling efforts.

Of course the crop was nowhere near ripe but politically it will provide a good sounding half truth during November 2010 campaign when Carvalho claims he “instituted curbside recycling”.

While the naive and easily duped might at best see it as the usual county incompetence others see it as a cynical attempt to make sure the pilot program fails so the county can build it’s long-desired “silver bullet” incinerator to burn all our rubbish (supposedly for energy) and in addition build a new landfill- two insanities that result from their refusal to hire a “zero waste” consultant and rather go with good old boy’s favorite consultants R.W. Beck that has been behind the failure to properly deal with solid waste on the island for over 20 years now.

We- and Zero Waste Kauai- been proponents of a full curbside recycling preceded by the construction of a MRF, a “hard to recycle good” facility, composting of green waste and other trash stream reduction measures.

We’ve even suggested shipping the small amount of waste that’s left (some say as low as 10% or less although 20-25% is commonly cited) off island where mainland landfills are fighting over who will get Honolulu’s waste.

We’ve even been proponents of a “ship it in, ship it out” law requiring that larger businesses whose products generate huge amounts of waste to deal with the aftermath.

While some say it’s “unethical” to foist our opala on others they forget that we are in a unique situation where all but our green waste is already shipped in and shipping that stuff out is only the fulfillment of the ecosystem we’ve created.

And, despite 15 years of asking, Beck has never done a full cost analysis of shipping trash including all the secondary and even tertiary expenses of our current land filling adventures although this time they have a brief dismissive paragraph in their latest report.

We can “do” zero waste here- as a matter of fact we’re uniquely situated and circumstanced to make it work. But that would take some vision and ability to grasp a changing paradigm for dealing with solid waste- a can of worms that our politically motivated elected officials have kicked down the road for decades.

Watch out for the Trojan Horse- let the mayor know that telling people to “just say no” is an ineffective substitute for banning the non-biodegradable plastic bags entirely by law.

You can do so at 1:30 p.m. on Wednesday (8/19) in the council chambers at the historic county building when bill 2321 is up for pubic hearing . If you can’t make it you can email testimony to ... and make sure you email a copy to hizzonnah and let him know you expect him to support and sign the bill when it lands on his desk.


Choke Chain said...

What a maroon sometimes.

Much truth about RWBeck and the magic incinerator, but still bleating on about shipping waste off island when it's been shown to be expensive as well as environmentally unfriendly. We need a landfill for the remainder after a serious sorting/recycling/composting operation and in case of an emergency.


"Hawaiian Waste Systems of Seattle was by far the lowest bidder of three companies that want to ship the trash. The company bid $99 per ton, which would cost the city $9.9 million a year, plus $7.8 million in lost landfill dump fees.

The city had planned to announce the winner of the contract this month, but that was put off after two rivals that bid $184 and $204 protested, accusing Hawaiian Waste Systems of coming in with an impossibly low bid -- an allegation the company denies."

Ocean freight was estimated at $75 and tipping fees are $30 or so on the mainland. Add in local costs and $99 looks humbug.

"Shipping off trash is an absolute waste. There is this overarching environmental ethic about the trash that we produce," said Jeff Mikulina, director of the Sierra Club's Hawai'i office. "It's antithetical to ... taking care of our own to send our 'opala thousands of miles away. We have to deal with our problems here at home."

How green. Shipping trash thousands of miles to a landfill instead of just digging a hole here. Maybe you and the Mayor can do a Dumb and Dumber routine.

Andy Parx said...

Well the Honolulu mess seems more like a the usual corrupt crap you get from Mufi- the fact is the company was ready to go but didn’t grease the right people- but that seems to be the only problem with their $99 bid the disgruntled losers jacked up bids notwithstanding.

And I’ve argued quite the opposite with Jeff and JoAnn Yukimura for years- it is the height of “dumb” and ecologically irresponsibility to first import all our trash and bury it here- sending it back where it came from simply completes the environmental cycle. And by the way- our real cost per ton is probably closer to $200 or more a ton not the $120 they charge so any cost analysis has to be based on that

Choke Chain said...

Don't buy it in the least.

The cost to run a landfill in Oregon is $30 ish. Ours isn't that much higher. Just a few years ago the "number" including local trucking was $60-70. Why do you pick and choose which govt supplied numbers you believe?

The local landfill numbers got inflated by RWB to justify an incinerator. Same way they "estimated" off island shipping from Oahu to be $245/ton well above even rational bids. That to justify additional capacity at H-power. Now with trash amounts down 30% due to a recession, they can't even keep H-power full so that's why they want to avoid shipping off island.

Believe what you will, but at $99/ton, the dude isn't even covering the obvious costs. And wait until oil goes back to $150/bbl. He'll be doing the G&R shuffle -- give me more money or I'll go out of business and leave you in the s--t. Putting critical services into a 3000 mile pipeline with the possibility of strikes, landfill closures in Oregon, a barge sinking with pollution issues etc.... dumb plan. Even an incinerator beats that.

Serious source reduction is #1. Separation/reuse/recycling #2. Composting #3. Remainder -- dig a hole locally. If you're going to quad wrap it such that you have no smell, put the damn thing up Maalo road and let the Hanamauulu community whine.