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When compared to the rest of the country, the state of Hawaii does remarkably well in terms of waste management. Recycling rates in Oahu are well above the national average, and the capital city of Honolulu ranks among the top cities in the country in terms of landfill diversion. In fact, over 70 percent of Oahu’s municipal waste is diverted from the Waimanalo Gulch Landfill. Waimanalo Gulch is currently the only municipal solid waste disposal site on the island of Oahu, and there have concerns over its expansion over the last several years. Other major landfills in the state include the West Hawaii Landfill in Waikoloa as well as a site in Kekaha. Overuse of these sites would of course be disastrous for the surrounding environment, but officials hope that increases in recycling and expansions of waste-to-energy projects such as the H-POWER plant will further decrease what is sent to Waimanalo Gulch.

The most recent recycling data that is available is for 2010. While the amount of waste that is recycled each year seems to have remained relatively constant, the general rate at which material is recycled has been steadily increasing since 2008. This rate was close to 30 percent in 2010, a significant change from the 2008 rate of 25 percent. This is definitely a positive trend that shows that Hawaiians truly care about reducing the amount of trash that goes into their landfills.

Another major contributor to the decrease of municipal solid waste that is simply thrown out is the expansion of the H-POWER waste-to-energy plant. The H-POWER plant has been in operation in Campbell Industrial Park since 1990. It currently processes 600,000 tons of waste each year and provides seven percent of Oahu’s electricity. Not only does the plant provide a way of disposing of nearly all of the waste collected from Oahu’s homes in a manner that is actually beneficial to the island’s environment, but it also reduces the amount of waste sent to landfills by 90 percent. This is accomplished via incineration. The over 2,000 tons of waste that is sent to the plant each day is incinerated as it is converted into energy. In the end, only ten percent of the waste is thrown out as ash. The plant also reduces Hawaii’s reliance on imported oil. In fact, one ton of trash can as much energy as 60 gallons of oil.

These and other efforts made by the Department of Environmental Services show that those in the state of Hawaii truly care about the environment. With a little more work, it is possible that the people of Oahu can reduce the amount of municipal solid waste even more.

Sources:

http://www.opala.org/
http://www.keepinghawaiiclean.com/landfills.htm

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