E-waste program suspended due to lack of funds

A county program to recycle electronic waste has been discontinued until at least July.

The Solid Waste Division of the county’s Department of Environmental Management announced Monday that its E-Waste Collection Program is suspended effective immediately because of a lack of funds.

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The program had received $85,000 in state funding this fiscal year, said Chris Chin-Chance, recycling specialist for the Solid Waste Division. But, three months before the end of the fiscal year, those funds have dried up.

“I guess we are expecting more funding next fiscal year,” Chin-Chance said. “If we get that, the program will probably come back, but it might be in a different form.”

Before the cancellation, e-waste was collected at stations in Hilo and Kealakehe.

In Hilo, e-waste could be deposited at Mr. K’s Recycle and Redemption on the second and fourth Saturdays of every month, while the Kealakehe transfer station accepted e-waste the third Saturday of every month.

Should additional funding be secured, Chin-Chance said a reinstated e-waste program might operate differently than the previous one.

“We are discussing in what shape or form the new program will be,” Chin-Chance said.

Chin-Chance said the bulk of the state funds was used to secure a contract with Mr. K’s to collect, process and transport e-waste. But even with the program suspended, residents can still discard their e-waste at Mr. K’s — although Chin-Chance noted that it likely will cost a small fee to do so.

Chin-Chance also lamented that a bill in the state Legislature this year could have mitigated pressure on county recycling programs.

House Bill 1640, in its original state, would have required that electronics manufacturers recycle a certain percentage of their products sold in Hawaii each year.

Although the bill is still alive in the Senate, it has been substantially altered in committee hearings, and now simply requires that electronics manufacturers and recyclers make annual reports to the state about how many products were sold or recycled in Hawaii.

Email Michael Brestovansky at mbrestovansky@hawaiitribune-herald.com.