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Bulk Waste Pilot Program To Begin Monday In Urban Honolulu

Casey Harlow

Starting Monday, a new pilot program for bulky trash collection takes effect for Honolulu's urban core. City officials say it's an effort to prevent illegal dumping in neighborhoods, and minimize trash on curbs and sidewalks.

Under the program, residents from Foster Village to Hawaii Kai can no longer leave bulky garbage items on the curb for their monthly scheduled pickup. Instead, households will have to make an appointment with the city's Department of Environmental Services or arranging one online.

Officials say the new program is needed because the current system is broken.

"People have been using our city streets for decades as a dumping ground," said Mayor Kirk Caldwell. "And we've been challenged with this issue for years, from when I was Managing Director. And now as mayor for almost seven years, we continue to struggle with people who just don't follow the laws and procedures that we put in place."

Officials also say the current system is not efficient for crews pickin gup the bulky items.

"They're out there traversing today every street, once a month, whether there's anything there or not," said Tim Houghton, Deputy Director of the Department of Environmental Services. "By doing appointments, we can direct them to very specific locations, [and] be much more efficient in that process."

Under the program, households can dispose of up to five bulky waste items per appointment at no cost . . . for now. If the pilot program is successful, the City may start charging for bulky waste pickup -- $5 for half a cubic yard, and $10 for a full cubic yard.

One controversy with the new system involves apartments and condominiums. They can get rid of up to 20 items a month. And residents will have to coordinate with their building's manager.

Houghton says the department is working with condo associations and apartment managers.

"We're working on making a change to that process. It requires us to enter about 16,000 addresses into our database," said Houghton. "And then we'll allow individual units to make appointments."

City officials also warned there will be penalties for those who place bulky items on the street without an appointment.

"There's going to be an education period," said Caldwell. "We know it's new, and we don't want to come down hard immediately with fines. So there will be notices given to folks.

"But after a month or two, if they continue to violate then we'll not only give a notice, but we'll then fine them. And we'll come down hard, somewhere between $250 per violation up to $2,500."

Caldwell is hopeful residents will comply with the new system. So far, more than 800 appointments have been made through the new system.

Casey Harlow is an HPR reporter and occasionally fills in as local host of Morning Edition and All Things Considered. Contact him at or on Twitter (@CaseyHarlow).
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