(BIVN) – Recycle Hawaiʻi board president Kristine Kubat recently stressed the connection between plastic and the global climate crisis to a Big Island commission, and offered some thoughts on finding a solution.
“It does relate to Hawaiʻi,” said Kubat, “because we all live on the same planet and every single person on this planet has to do what they need to do and accept responsibility for the plastic waste that they are generating.”
Kubat spoke at the November 27 meeting of the Environmental Management Commission in Hilo. The commission is seeking solutions to recycling challenges on Hawaiʻi Island, especially after the County announced that paper and plastics are no longer being accepted as of October 16.
“We should not even talk about what we’re gonna do with that plastic until we’re very clear on how we’re going to reduce that amount” that is imported onto Hawaiʻi island, Kubat said. “Even if we tomorrow stopped using fossil fuels for energy” she told the commission, “we are still going to be overburdened by the amount of plastic and oil that’s required for the plastic industry.”
Kubat also said it should be feasible to extend the fee at the point of purchase for things like batteries, tires, and single-use bevarage containers to include plastic products. “That infrastructure is already in place,” she said.
“The state collects it and then, what they do is, they have a formula. And they say, okay, so many glass jars were bought in Hawaiʻi County and so many were bought on Oahu, and then they send the money back” to the County, Kubat said. “It’s in the law where it says that that money has to be used to support glass recycling.”
“One of the reasons the glass recycling is continuing is because of that 1.5¢ cents that’s being collected on the glass jars,” Kubat said. “One thing we need to do is raise that that 1.5¢ cents was established like 25, 28 years ago. It’s way too low. We’re talking about anything that comes into the state. Doesn’t matter who made it. We don’t have to convince Costco or anyone. Just like they did with the glass container fee – boom, right there at the register.”
Recycle Hawaii is a 501(c)3 non-profit educational organization serving Hawaiʻi Island.