Dealing With Solid Waste on Kauai

Dealing with solid waste on Kauai is not something I want to tackle weekly, nor is it a topic that people are going to have an interest when they are searching for best things to do in Hawaii. However, it is an important fact of life, and one that is more acute when living on a mound of slowly degrading volcanic soil in the middle of the blue Pacific.

Visit Hanalei it is a great romantic anniversary idea

Hanalei Taro Fields

This week our local officials informed us that our current landfill, located in Kekaha, may not have the 10 years remaining for our solid waste, as was previously thought, but in fact much less. This announcement has motivated the current administration to propose a new location for a ‘resource recovery center’. In their effort to stay on track and have a new operating center by the year 2020.

The latest site has been selected for Kauai’s newest attraction, a 50 acre rubbish disposal center. It is Ma’alo, located about 2.5 miles north of Lihue, above Hanamaulu on the east side of the island. Located well away from any residential areas, it is in fact ranked as the 6th best location out of 10 submitted by an expert committee assigned with the task in 2009. We can only speculate on the reception this location will receive from the general public.

The current administration originally selected a 100 acre parcel in Kalaheo. Wanting to carve the site out of our local coffee acreage that is classified prime agricultural land. This myopic selection generated a cataclysmic uproar in the community. To their credit, residents were not swayed by the administrations proposal to allocate $10 dollars for each ton collected to be invested in the small town of Kalaheo. Also and equally important was that the landowner Alexander and Baldwin did not wish to sell any of their land.

To their credit, the administration sees the solid waste as a valuable resource that could pay for itself if operated properly. No longer are they focused on burying the debris but separating, bundling, and selling the product. We applaud these efforts and further encourage education of our residents to reduce, reuse, and refuse when possible.

A December 2011 Update

Our readers will be disappointed to hear that the County of Kauai has officially stated that a waste recovery site identification and impact assessment, that was scheduled to last 5 years once a site was identified. Has yet to be started. The importance of a recovery site is instrumental to a new landfill, it will mean less impact on the island, and to the new landfill.

Compounding this backup is that the new landfill has not been vetted in the community, thus further delaying acquisition of land for the new site and placing further pressures on our only landfill at Kekaha.

The plan called for hiring of staff in year one, followed by green waste pickup in year two and a new composting facility in year three, that has never been realized. A plan to make the bottle and aluminum can recycle facilities profitable has not happened either according to Councilman, Tim Bynam.

The impact has certainly been felt in the County pocketbook. The current expansion phase of Kekaha landfill has cost nearly 6 million dollars and the last phase set to begin in 2014 will cost the taxpayers 11 million dollars, and most likely will not offer us the time to transition to a new location.

What can we practically do to lessen our impact on island infrastructure?
Here is our list of responsible solid waste actions that you can practice at our Kauai vacation rentals.

* Shop at the farmers market and the Koloa fish market
* Pile your paper products in the laundry room, we will recycle
* We recycle all plastic, bottles, and metal products
* All unopened food products are given to the Kauai Independent Food Bank
* All non animal protein food products are given to our goats, and they say Mahalo!

It’s that simple. Our staff, or yours truly will make sure that it does not end up in the landfill and we will continue to fight for a healthy sustainable Kauai.
We would be interested in ways we can improve and are always open to hear how your community is going green.

About Joe Sylvester

Aloha! I have lived on Kauai for 33 years where I have worked as an Agronomist for 17 years, owned an art gallery for 11 years and own a vacation rental for 17 years in the town of Poipu. I am a former Peace Corps volunteer and have been married since 1985.
Connect with Joe on Google Plus


  1. Reduce, reuse and recycle and compost for a greener tomorrow! Thanks Joe!

    • Great one Jai. I would also add ‘Refuse’. So often we find ourselves deciding whether we need something and then we buy it because it is so inexpensive. Months later we come across the item and it has never been out of the package.

Speak Your Mind


Kauai Rentals | Hawaiian Honeymoon | Hawaiian Wedding | Kauai Map | Kauai Activities | Kauai Beaches | Poipu Rentals | Kauai Hiking | Kauai Honeymoon