As manufacturers pay for e-waste, local recyclers see huge demand - Hawaii News Now
Hawaii's new system for collecting old computer equipment and televisions is moving into high gear. Video is 3 minutes. By Daryl Huff, Hawaii News Now.
Q: Aloha, Dale! We've been so happy having you here for your internship. Could you tell us what you're studying?
Hi! Yes, I'm in my second year in the Associate in Science program at Hawai`i Community College, in Information Technology.
Q: How did you first get interested in IT?
I used to design weblogs for my friends using a hosting site called Xanga. Xanga is old school -- it predates MySpace! I liked that you could customize things, like using different backgrounds or making it sparkly.
Q: What brought you to Mr. K's for your internship?
I like being able to take things apart. And with hardware [in contrast to programming], certain things make it easy. If a computer doesn't start, the troubleshooting usually starts with switching out the RAM. If it's a motherboard issue, which often involves soldering, [which we don't do], then the computer gets recycled as [electronic] waste.
Q: What do you like the most about working at Mr. K's?
I like being a part of something that keeps Hawaii clean. Mr. K's makes it so everyone's old electronics have a place to go. Just imagine how our landfills, side streets, back roads, and possibly waterways would look littered by laptops, flat screen and CRT TVs, PCs. Malama Ka `Aina is what Mr. K's believes in, and I am definitely honored and proud to be a part of this.
Q: What's been most challenging about working here?
Some of the commercial electronic waste that comes in is pretty heavy, like big UPS (uninterrupted power supply) batteries. On the first day, I couldn't lift 40 pounds of weight. But now I can lift more than 60 pounds. I never thought I could lift 60 pounds. I guess you get conditioned by repetitive lifting of e-waste. Don't get me wrong, there are days when my muscles ache. But when I think about where the e-waste could end up if Mr. K's didn't accept it, it is a small price to pay.
Q: You've been working in recycling for two months now. What's something that you'd like to tell people about recycling?
It may sound cliché, but one man's trash is another man's treasure. A lot of the stuff that comes in here is half broken, but somehow our team gets it up and running again.
Q: What are your plans after finishing your degree at HCC?
I'm applying to the University of Hawai`i Maui College's Applied Business Information Technology program. I haven't decided yet what realm of IT I want to be in.
bove: Dale Kuamoo with her mentor, Evan Takita, of the IT Department
Dale was Evan Takita's first intern. Evan is a graduate of Hawai`i Community College and was himself an HCC intern back in the day. Evan was impressed by how quickly Dale has picked up things. "She's not afraid of asking questions," he said, "and she thinks ahead to the next steps."
Evan also praised Dale's willingness to take on some of the physical tasks involved in recycling e-waste. Sometimes Mr. K's will receive several pallets of electronics, which then has to be sorted by type and weight. This might be intimidating for some, but not Dale. "She's not afraid of hard work," said Evan.
Dr. Carrie Butler, Program Coordinator and Assistant Professor of HCC's Business Education and Technology Division, expressed appreciation to Roy Kadota and the team at Mr. K's. "We appreciate Mr. K's willingness to help our students learn and provide a service to the community," she said.
Internships are an integral part of providing HCC Business Education and Technology students with real-world experience and training. Employers interested in internship placements should contact Dr. Butler at firstname.lastname@example.org .
With the passage of Act 151 in 2022, manufacturers of eligible electronic devices would be responsible for covering the cost of recycling of all device owners. This expanded the previous e-waste recycling law, which only covered manufacturers of TVs. The law also set recycling targets, incentives in the form of financial penalties for not meeting those targets, and convenience requirements for Neighbor Islands. The convenience requirements for Hawai`i Island create in-person e-waste collections in Hilo and Kona at least once a month.
In the 2023 legislative session, Senate and House bills sought to weaken Act 151, arguing that there is not enough recycling weight to meet the targets, and recycling costs would be too high. Data from the State of Hawaii Department of Health (DOH), which oversees e-waste recycling, shows that prior to Act 151, the volume of recycled electronic devices plummeted. Recycled TVs, on the other hand, steadily rose and held steady.
This blog highlights some insights from DOH data.
Over the 11-year period from 2010 - 2021, the top 5 manufacturers ranked by the weight of recycled electronic devices reported to the DOH were Apple, HP, Samsung Electronics, Dell and LG Electronics. Apple and HP account for 72% of the total weight recycled during that time period (figure 2, above). The other 3 manufacturers steadily shrink to a fraction of what Apple and HP are recycling. Is this because Apple and HP are selling more products by weight in Hawai`i?
DOH data for 2021 does not suggest a correlation between (a) the total of TVs and electronic devices sold by weight and (b) the total recycled by weight. (Covered electronic devices are combined with TVs because the weight sold data is aggregated by DOH.) Samsung and LG recycle more by weight when TVs are included, but Apple and HP still recycle more as a percentage of weight sold. The data suggests then, that even with devices generally getting lighter, there is a significant amount of weight sold in Hawai`i that could be recycled.
In testimony for HB 1640 HD2 (Act 151) in March 2021, DOH pointed out the difference in total recycling between Dell and Apple. "Both Apple and Dell collect the same electronic devices," DOH wrote, "but Apple has set higher recycling targets than Dell for Hawaii."
Further, DOH added that, under the current law (prior to Act 151), "manufacturers have no incentive to increase the amount of electronic devices they recycle in Hawaii." Lacking manufacturer incentives, electronic device recycling in Hawai`i has plummeted (figure 1). Hawai`i County has also struggled to sufficiently fund its free collection program.
Against this backdrop, the new e-waste recycling law, Act 151, started on January 1, 2023, and has already seen great success in its first two months here.
Hang around Mr. K's long enough, or just turn up on the right day, and you might just come across something that captivates your imagination. Like this Japanese Hanabi pachislo slot machine. Play the odds in your own living room and discover firsthand why hanabi means "flower of fire burning through my wallet"!
Hanabi is Japanese for fireworks ("hana" = flower, "bi" = fire).
Mesmerizing for its inexplicability -- a tanning booth in Hawai`i. Then again, those long rainy stretches in December can leave you feeling pale and washed out ...
High Turnout for Electronics Recycling Collection Events in Hilo & Kona | New E-Waste Recycling Law Takes Effect
The County of Hawai`i's Recycling Section held its Electronics Recycling Collection Events in Hilo and Kona in December and January, during which the public once again came out in droves to properly dispose of their unwanted TVs, monitors, computers, and printers. Sponsored by the County and State Department of Health, these events served over a thousand customers and collected more than 160,000 pounds of electronics for certified recycling on the mainland.
A new state law, Act 151 (2022), requires manufacturers of TVs, monitors, computers and printers to provide at least monthly collections of these electronics in Hilo and Kona, at no cost to device owners, starting January 2023. Mr. K's Recycle and Redemption Center, Inc., is a registered collector for Hawai`i Island.
"This Extended Producer Responsibility (EPR) law gives residents and businesses a convenient opportunity to clean out their homes and offices of electronics, and the knowledge that it is being recycled safely and properly to protect the `aina and our drinking water," said Craig Kawaguchi, Recycling Coordinator for the County of Hawai`i.
Read the full Hawai`i County press release here.
[News] Hawaii is about to launch one of the nation's most ambitious tech waste recycling programs
by Daryl Huff
HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) - Hawaii is implementing one of the most ambitious electronic waste recycling plans in the country, but some Hawaii retailers are afraid it will mean higher prices and less selection.Ironically, Hawaii has no ability to recycle electronic devices.
Instead, the material has to be collected and shipped to processing centers elsewhere.
The goal of the new law is to have manufacturers collect and ship out more and more of the used-up products.
... State Rep. Nicole Lowen, chair of the Energy and Environmental Protection Committee, was among the lead advocates for the law. She said putting the full responsibility on the manufacturers will incentivize them to pay more attention to the waste their industry is generating.
“We are pushing them to rethink the design packaging, distribution systems of their products and create more efficiency, for the reuse and recycling of those products or the materials that they contain,” Lowen said.
Updates & Improvements to Hawai`i Electronic Device Recycling and Recovery Signed into Law by Gov. Ige
The original version of the act, in effect from 2010, set recycling targets only for televisions and provided limited funding for electronic device recycling targets for manufacturers.
This revision provides updates and improvements that benefit Hawai`i Island, including: Establishing recycling (and reuse) goals for manufacturers of electronic devices, based on their sales from two years' prior; Requiring manufacturers to fully fund their recycling plans; Strengthens convenient collection at no cost to device owners, including monthly collection in Kona and Hilo. Read the full text of Act 151. For more information on the County's restructured free residential electronic waste collection program, visit the County's website.
Note: Mr. K's electronic waste recycling program continues as usual, for residents as well as for businesses, schools, nonprofit organizations, and government agencies.
Read the article in the Hawaii Tribune Herald
By Michael Brestovansky
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.
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 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.
Roy with Robin Wiener, ISRI President
A locally owned small business, Mr. K's stays connected with the broader recycling network. In late March, Roy Kadota, owner of Mr. K's, attended the 2022 Convention and Exposition of the Institute of Scrap Recycling Industries, Inc. (ISRI), held this year in Las Vegas, Nevada.
Roy attended sessions on topics such as how recycling fits into a sustainable future, how businesses should incorporate Environmental, Social, and Governance (ESG) requirements into operations, and the current state and future of copper and plastic.