Hawaii island faces limited options as landfill nears capacity
- Bill Kucharski, the director of environmental management for Hawaii County, said at a recent meeting that the South Hilo Sanitary Landfill has somewhere between one and three years of capacity remaining, as reported by the Hawaii Tribune Herald.
- The site accepts between 175 and 220 tons of waste per day and has already exhausted its options for permitted expansion. Kucharski estimated that closure could cost at least $10 million.
- Once the landfill reaches capacity the plan is to transport waste from the East Hawaii area to the West Hawaii Sanitary Landfill in Puuanahulu.
County officials had originally hoped to extend the Hilo landfill's lifespan a little longer by building a composting facility next to the site, but those plans have since been stalled. The $10.5 million facility would have been the first full-scale operation of its kind in the state and could have eventually processed up to 35,000 tons per year. Construction was originally slated to begin this spring. The county is now holding off on approving its environmental assessment due to pushback from local farmers over odor concerns.
While officials look for other potential composting sites in the region, plans for a much larger resource recovery facility are still in the works across the island. BioEnergy Hawaii has announced plans for a $50 million operation that could divert up to 70% of incoming waste from the West Hawaii landfill. Though landfill capacity on the state's largest island isn't an immediate issue that could change if at least one of those waste diversion projects doesn't move forward.
On a national level, open landfill space is still abundant and average tipping fees remain relatively low but Hawaii County isn't the only regional government to face these types of capacity questions. Though unlike some others that can turn to exporting if necessary, that proposition is much more expensive for this island state.
- Hawaii Tribune Herald Landfill nears capacity; Hilo dump could be full in a year; options ‘limited’
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