Oahu recycling rates are above the national average and Honolulu ranks among the top cities in the country in landfill diversion. By employing both recycling and waste-to-energy, more than 70% of Oahu's municipal solid waste is being diverted from Waimanalo Gulch Landfill. Expansions to the H-POWER waste-to-energy plant and increases in recycling will further decrease what goes to landfill.
Based on data collected for calendar year 2011, Oahu currently diverts 73% of Oahu’s MSW and 66% of total waste from landfills when construction and demolition waste is included. See Recycling and Landfill Diversion
charts and tables.
How we manage our island’s waste will affect generations to come. Further increasing recycling and waste-to-energy will benefit the environment and divert thousands more tons from the landfill. Oahu generates more than 1.5 million tons of waste annually, of which almost 1 million tons are diverted to beneficial use in recycling and waste-to-energy. More than 500,000 tons of various materials are reused and remade into new products, and another 500,000 tons are converted into electricity at the H-POWER waste-to-energy facility. We can and need to do more.
Hawaii counties are required to update solid waste management plans every five years. The City's most recent solid waste master plan, and technical studies which contributed to the development of the plan, are posted online in the Resource Library, along with previous master plan documents and studies and annual recycling rate data for 1988 to present.
The ultimate goal is to minimize the use of landfills to the absolute smallest level practical. Currently on Oahu, both recycling and waste-to-energy divert a significant portion of the waste from the landfill. Recycling remanufactures waste products into new products. On Oahu, our waste-to-energy facility (H-POWER) also enables us to take garbage and convert it into energy, which contributes to our island’s energy sustainability. In order to further increase landfill diversion, we must consider how best to utilize the garbage going to landfill as a resource – to remanufacture new products and/or generate additional power.
In 2013, the City expects to increase landfill diversion rates to more than 80% of MSW and 70% of total waste. Expansions to H-POWER are slated to be complete and fully operational before year-end 2012, and the development of a new composting facility should be complete by mid-2013. The expansion of H-POWER will increase the plant’s capacity by an additional 300,000 tons per year, diverting a total of 35% from landfill. (H-POWER video and Powerpoint). A new composting facility to process a combination of green waste, food waste and sewage sludge, is expected to increase recycling of sewage sludge by an additional 15,000 tons and food waste by an additional 10,000 tons. And by optimizing existing residential and commercial recycling programs, including further increasing recycling through the islandwide residential curbside recycling collection system, the City expects to increase the material recycling rate to more than 40% of MSW and 35% of total waste.