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Kaua‘i adopts latest waste-management plan, but ‘real work’ is to come

LIHU‘E — Kaua‘i County’s 2021 Integrated Solid Waste Management Plan was officially taken up last week after the Kaua‘i County Council deferred action in mid-November to revise its adoption resolution.

Great public interest has been shown in the ISWMP, an update required by the state every 10 years, and prompted the brief procedural delay. Critics argued the 161-page plan lacks focus, and urged councilmembers to establish explicit goals related to, among things, the future of the Kekaha Landfill.

Res. No. 2021-47 is a non-binding document. The plan it adopts does not chart a single path forward, but lists pros and cons for multiple potentialities, including curbside recycling and various methods of waste-stream diversion to extend the landfill’s life.

“We did think it was important, at the very least, to give some sort of guide,” said council Vice Chair Mason Chock, describing the resolution’s amendments during Wednesday’s council meeting.

“Because this is a 10-year plan and we’re looking at the intensity that we’re in in terms of the need for an extension of the current landfill, there should be some statements that strongly suggest, for the next council, what those priorities would be.”

The Kekaha Landfill is projected to reach capacity by January 2027. A vertical expansion of the landfill pushes its closure date to mid-2030.

Wednesday’s amended resolution urges the county Department of Public Works Solid Waste Division “to expeditiously implement” studies to determine waste-stream-diversion priorities, and commits to “maximizing diversion to the greatest extent possible.”

DPW personnel said studies are needed to determine what proposed priorities, like curbside recycling and a materials-recovery facility, are feasible on Kaua‘i.

“To implement any element of this plan, there’s going to be additional steps to do that,” Acting County Engineer Troy Tanigawa told the council. “There’s a lot more work ahead. Right now, before us, is this plan that’s been prepared according to what the state statute requires. The adoption of this plan will help us get started performing the real work.”

One waste-stream diversion possibility, a waste-to-energy facility that would burn solid waste, is notably unpopular among residents who provided oral or written testimony throughout the ISWMP-adoption proceedings.

Opponents of WTE, which is discussed in the ISWMP, argue the method is both inefficient and polluting.

Councilmember Luke Evslin said he shares residents’ concerns, noting he believed the study did its due diligence by providing it as an option.

“Obviously, I’m incredibly skeptical of waste-to-energy,” Evslin said.

Later, Evslin was among councilmembers who voiced their approval of the ISWMP before voting unanimously with fellow councilmembers to adopt it.

“Maybe it’s not as far as others had wanted in our resolution, but I think it’s as far as we can go with the data that we have now,” Evslin said. “Hopefully, this resolution can guide us in the next budget session to ensure that we’re funding the necessary studies so that we can press the gas pedal as hard as we can go here on diversion.”

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Scott Yunker, reporter, can be reached at 245-0437 or syunker@thegardenisland.com.
Source: The Garden Island

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