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, nearly 79% 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 over the next few years.
Based on data collected for calendar year 2013, Oahu currently diverts 79% of Oahu’s MSW and 74% 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 1.6 million tons of total waste annually, almost 1 million tons of which are diverted to beneficial use in recycling and waste-to-energy. More than 600,000 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.
Each Hawaii county is required to submit a revised integrated solid waste management plan to the State Department of Health every 10 years, and to provide an interim status update report on the implementation of that plan five years after it is submitted. The City and County of Honolulu’s most recent management plan was submitted in December 2008, and the interim report on implementation was submitted in December 2013. The next revised plan will be submitted in 2018. The City's most recent solid waste master plan, and the technical studies that 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.
By 2015 the City expects to increase landfill diversion rates to more than 80% of MSW and 75% of total waste. Recent expansions to H-POWER have increased the plant’s capacity by an additional 300,000 tons per year, helping to divert more than 40% of the island’s waste from the landfill. (H-POWER video and Powerpoint). The City is also expanding H-POWER to accept sewage sludge by the end of 2014, which will divert an additional 30,000 tons of sewage sludge and bulking material from the landfill. And by further optimizing existing residential and commercial recycling programs, including increasing recycling through the islandwide residential curbside recycling collection system, the City expects to increase the material recycling rate to nearly 40% of MSW and 30% of total waste by 2015.
By 2015, the City anticipates that little more than ash will be disposed in the Waimanalo Gulch Sanitary Landfill. Of the 18% going to landfill, only 2% represents MSW that could neither be recycled nor processed through waste-to-energy.