Monday, July 21, 2008


DIGGIN’ IN THE DIRT: People who come to Kaua`i and spend 10 seconds looking over our political issues have to pick their jaws off the ground at our lack of recycling efforts.

People here shrug off porcine practices and procedures that were banned in almost every mainland jurisdiction and most developed nations many years ago- practices that would get you arrested in many places.

But on Kaua`i. when it comes to the most basic of all local government responsibilities- getting rid of the trash- even lip service to curbside recycling and sorting facilities is rare and only provided tangentially in a conversation about putting a new dump in someone’s backyard.

Even Honolulu- certainly no model city for it’s handling of solid waste- has curbside pickup and separation of some recyclables as detailed in a couple of articles in today’s Star Bulletin.

But Kaua`i is basically a toxic waste dump waiting to be discovered. For years old poisons and contaminants were routinely dumped into the ground by residents and businesses alike, mostly within shouting distance of streams and the ocean.

One example is our potential Superfund cleanup site under the funky, old, diesel-burning, biggest-pollutant-spewing-on-the-island, `Ele`ele power plant.

Though it’s now an open secret after we reported upon it a few years ago we have leaders who actually take the pride in ownership of this monstrosity that sits above a lake of petrochemicals and heavy metals... one “we” bought along with “our” electric company “co-op” purchase a few years back.

But the worst of all is the traditional dumping of toxic waste because there’s nothing else to do with it. We all remember in the 70’s when the biggest car battery recycler in Kapa`a dumped the acid on the ground about 100 yards from the beach.

The county will comply with part of federal law by telling you not to throw certain things like batteries and compact fluorescent bulbs in the trash but their answer to “where should I bring them” is reminiscent of the action plan contained in Henry and Liza’s “Hole in the Bucket” predicament.

Very occasionally and irregularly the county will pick a few hours about once a year and tell people to bring some of the toxic trash they’ve been presumably storing safely somewhere away from the kids all year. But the announcements are anything but robust especially compared to any self promotion by the administration and council in their weekly taxpayer supported TV blab fests.

So imagine our delight upon reading an item in the local paper last week announcing that the magnanimous people at county funded solid waste contractor Waste Management (WM), "ha(ve) recently launched an online service — — that allows consumers to recycle compact fluorescent lamps and batteries."

First reporter Rachel Gehrlein plops in a piece of PR from WM

“Waste Management is providing solutions to help kama`aina responsibly handle their household universal waste,” Joe Whalen, general manager for Waste Management of Hawai`i, said in a statement. “Communities across Hawai`i are becoming increasingly aware of the 2012 deadline for the use of CFLs and the need to properly dispose of CFLs, batteries and other electronic waste.”

Thanks for the corporate drivel.

But then the announcement we’ve all been waiting for:

To recycle the CFLs, prepaid-postage kits can be ordered online and delivered to the customer’s home. The kits can be used for the storage of discarded batteries and CFLs until ready to be recycled. Once the kit is full, it can be sent from the customer’s home or the U.S. Post Office.

The article goes on to promote the wonders of the program and, although we asked around and couldn’t find anyone whose compact fluorescent bulbs have ever “burned out”, now we can theoretically throw them away some day... as soon as we save up 15 of them.

OK- at least it’s something. We still have no place to throw away chemicals, paints and other household toxics but at least we don’t have to store up years worth of batteries so they’ll leak all over the place by the time we have a place to get rid of them

The problem is Rachel obviously had better things to do by kissing corporate butt rather than actually checking out the ThinkGreenFormHome Web site because-have your credit cards ready- any attempt to get one of the boxes will be met with a $14.95 price tag and an “add to cart” button for your recycling pleasure.

Same goes for a box for your batteries. And there’s no way to find out how much postage will be paid for or how big the battery box is before you buy it.

But wait- the CFL box it does come with a “Mercury VaporLok bag”. Why that wouldn’t be and ordinary zip-loc bag would it?

Are we supposed to ignore the fact that the whole box and postage for the “15, ten-watt CFLs.” – pay no attention to the fact that 2-3 ounce CFL’s that give off the equivalent of a 60 watt light bulb are at least 13 watts- might amount to five bucks or so... 10 bucks tops with the “one price” post office boxes..

Let’s see which is worse- a county which makes solid waste and meaningful recycling an issue to be discussed only, and only discussed, in even-numbered years during a two month period before elections, a company that scams people who want to keep toxins out of the land fill or a newspaper reporter who falls for the company’s scam and does a fluff piece on the rip-off without checking it out or providing information that’s a mouse click away... hmmmm... let’s get out that Kaua`i Bozometer...

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Wonder who runs the largest commercial trash hauling business? And who ran off the competition on recycling at the Resource Center (Yukimura's White Elephant). And who handles the grossly overpriced and ineffectual County recycling program? Who roadblocks real efforts to make change?