Recycle Hawai’i Talks Hope, Solutions at Sustainability Summit

Hawai’i Island, Hawai’i – Climate Resilience and Waste Management sessions opened panel discussions in Hawai’i Island’s Sustainability Summit on March 4th and 5th; Recycle Hawai’i presented on both panels. The panel sessions brought experts from across the island to highlight conservation efforts and made an effort to engage youth in each session.

“Our great challenge is communication,” responds Recycle Hawai’i Board President Dani Burger. Municipal waste consists of remains from human lifestyles. Aggregated together, this generates tons of waste every day. This waste represents resources mined from the Earth, smelted into shape, and shipped across the world. All of the panelists in each session stressed the importance or reducing and reusing, and creating opportunities through research and communication. On the Climate Resilience panel, Recycle Hawai’i Executive Director Kristine Kubat turned the conversation to the regenerative power of compost as a bright solution to capture carbon.

Recycle Hawaii speaks at the Sustainability Summit
Recycle Hawaii speaks at the Sustainability Summit, Waste Management Panel

Panelists did not agree on issues around waste to energy production. Burger tempers the discussion “While the technology is exciting, I think we need to remember that we still are trying to use less resources overall and that we will be trying, constantly, to make these plants obsolete. And if we don’t, scarcity eventually will.” Kubat reminds attendees that composting food waste has a significant role in the carbon cycle and returning nutrients to the soil – preventing climate change by putting carbon back in the soil, cleaning the water table, and making landfills safer. 

“If there’s one thing I wish I had said, it would be to point out that we already have a state-of-the-art biodiesel energy producer in Pacific Biodiesel, using cooking oil as a feedstock. We have artisan composters ready to service urban areas, as they do in mainland cities” Burger adds, “While I hesitated to call out the county for systems beyond their control, the county is absolutely responsible for supporting this kind of state-of-the-art recycling infrastructure. We all are.”

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