MAUI NEEDS RECYCLING TO EASE LANDFILL PRESSURE

Editorial

The Maui News

WAILUKU, Maui (Feb.7) – Maui County Council members questioning the high cost of dealing with derelict vehicles need to look at the broader issues of an island undergoing rapid growth.

More people translates into more trash, most of which is going into the ever-expanding landfill, which can’t expand forever.

The focus during a Budget and Finance Committee meeting on Wednesday was on an $825,000 allocation for dealing with junked cars. But in asking questions about the interim project to deal with junked cars, council members need to recognize all of the issues arising in a waste-prone society that includes citizens who don’t see a problem with dumping their opala on roadsides.

The problem of waste disposal in Maui County does not only involve junked cars. The problem involves construction materials, old appliances, old furniture and a stream of consumer products shipped into the island daily that will turn into trash that cannot or should not be buried in landfills.

The contract going to Kitagawa’s Towing & Transport is only a beginning to resolving the problem. Junked cars may be the most easily resolved since the metals in vehicles can be sold, with the market price for scrapped cars now high enough to pay for the cost of shipping the junks out of Maui.

But Maui County must deal with the costs of dealing with a range of wastes, some of which can be recycled profitably most of the time, some that can be recycled only part of the time, and some that will always exact a cost for disposal.

Whatever the failings of the Maui Scrap Metal operation in Waikapu, the company had attempted to handle a range of waste products including metals for which there is a reliable market, but also products – appliances, cardboard, paper – for which the market was uncertain at best, and some that had no market at all. Maui Scrap Metal may serve as an example of how not to do a recycling business, but at least the company tried.

Maui County needs a comprehensive program for cutting the amount of junk going into its landfills. Whether the county does it itself or turns to private contractors, the county and its taxpayers will face the costs of disposing of what the scrap markets won’t buy.

The $825,000 cost of an interim project for junked cars and appliances should be measured against the more than $7 million already spent on developing a new landfill that still isn’t open.

February 8, 2005

The Maui News: www.mauinews.com

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