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Mandatory Recycling

Who's Affected?
Implementation and Enforcement
Recycling Ordinances

Recycling of targeted materials is required by law for most businesses and government agencies. The City encourages recycling of as many materials as you can, but requires that certain materials be recycled or composted and thereby diverted from City disposal sites.

The commercial sector has the greatest potential to significantly increase recycling on Oahu. Businesses that generate large volumes of recyclable materials may also have an opportunity to reduce waste disposal costs when recycling is integrated into their waste management system.

Who’s Affected?

Commercial Entities

Restaurants, bars, hotels, office buildings, shopping centers, retail stores, grocery stores, hospitals, food courts, food manufacturers and processors, golf courses, parks, tree trimmers, auto shops, appliance dealers.

Almost every large business on Oahu is affected, either directly or indirectly, by the City’s recycling requirement. Some of the requirements specifically identify the types of businesses that are required to set up recycling systems for targeted materials. Bars and restaurants are required to recycle glass containers; office buildings (including government offices) are required to recycle paper; and businesses that generate large amounts of food waste, including hotels, restaurants, manufacturers and hospitals, are required to recycle that waste.

Other business are affected indirectly by the bans and restrictions of materials at City disposal sites. Although refuse haulers are responsible for recycling/disposal compliance, the businesses that generate the waste need to insure that their refuse is within allowable disposal limits. Large generators of cardboard, including retail operations, shopping centers, grocery stores and hospitals, are affected by the restriction on cardboard; and large generators of green waste, including golf courses, hotels, condominiums and parks, are affected by the restriction on green waste.

Implementation and Enforcement

Disposal bans and restrictions on high volume recyclable materials, including green waste, cardboard, tires, auto batteries, white goods and scrap metals, are enforced at the City's disposal sites.

Inspectors monitor trucks unloading at the landfill, H-POWER and transfer stations. By visual assessment, an inspector determines if a truckload is over the limit on restricted materials or contains any amount of banned materials. The offending vehicle can be denied access to City disposal facilities for up to two weeks per violation. The Chief of the Refuse Division will determine the penalty and duration. The company, not the individual truck driver, is responsible for compliance of all trucks affiliated with the company.

Mandatory recycling affecting specific types of businesses (e.g., glass recycling for bars and restaurants, paper recycling for office buildings, food waste recycling for hotels, grocery stores, food manufacturers/processors, food courts and hospitals) is enforced at the point of generation. The City conducts annual site inspections of businesses that are required to recycle. If a business is not in compliance with the City's mandatory recycling ordinances, a Recycling Specialist will work with management to set up a recycling program or improve/correct a failing system.

The law also allows for the requirements to be suspended for any business if the cost to collect and recycle is more than the cost to collect and dispose of the targeted materials. Requests to suspend the requirements for a business should be directed to the City’s Recycling Office. Each case will be evaluated individually. City Recycling Specialists will meet with the business, assess the problems specific to that site and work with the business to set up recycling operations. Through this evaluation and assistance process the City’s Specialist will determine whether recycling is feasible for the business.

Recycling and collection service companies that encounter businesses that are uncooperative or uninformed should report those businesses to the City’s Recycling Office. City Recycling Specialists will contact the business, clarify the requirements and offer assistance.

© 2005 City & County of Honolulu's Department of Environmental Services.