(Star Advertiser) Kokua Line: Honolulu’s bulky-waste pickup exceeds others in level of service, city insists

(Source: Star Advertiser)

Question: We have been leaving our bulky items on the curb like always. Is that wrong? I am seeing so much on the news, but things seem the same here.

Answer: No, it’s not wrong, because you live in Waipahu, which is not included in the pilot program requiring metro Honolulu residents (Foster Village to Hawaii Kai) to make appointments for the city to collect bulky trash such as old furniture and large appliances (known as white goods). Your area remains on a regular monthly pickup schedule, which you can verify at opala.org.

Speaking of bulky pickup, a recent column (808ne.ws/ 814kline) inspired a response Wednesday from Lori Kahi­kina, director of the city Department of Environmental Services (ENV), which oversees garbage collection on Oahu. We’ll share the email in full:

“In Kokua Line’s Aug. 14 article that responded to a reader’s question about bulky waste handling in other cities, there were some quick snapshots of the city auditor’s 2017 report on Honolulu’s bulky-item collection program.

“What really gets lost in the audit and not highlighted nearly enough is that not one city provides what Honolulu does on a monthly basis in regards to bulky waste, which is to collect an unlimited amount of items on a monthly basis for free, while also picking up white goods, including those with Freon gas.

“The six cities we found in the auditor’s report that are remotely comparable to Honolulu are Washington D.C., Nashville, Tenn., Oklahoma City, Boston, Charlotte, N.C., and Columbus, Ohio.

“Bulky item collection in Washington D.C. is free, but only by appointment, and there is a restriction of up to seven items including white goods.

“Nashville is identical to Honolulu, with the only exception being that residents must call or go online and make an appointment. This mirrors Honolulu’s current bulky item pilot project, where you need to make an appointment online or by phone.

“Oklahoma City picks up bulky items for free every month, but only up to four cubic yards; each additional cubic yard is charged to a resident’s utility bill.

“Boston picks up bulky items, but only up to five items, along with regularly scheduled trash service, which is once or twice a week. The service in Boston is free, but you must schedule collection for white goods.

“As for Charlotte, bulky item pickup has to be scheduled, which again, is what Honolulu’s current pilot project requires from Foster Village to Hawaii Kai.

“Columbus also mimics the Honolulu bulky pilot, as a resident must make an appointment with no limit on items and it is free to residents. Although they do collect white goods, they do not pick up refrigerators.”

As Kahikina mentioned, the Aug. 14 column referred to an audit released two years ago that included a comparison of Honolulu’s bulky-waste collection serv­ice to that of 30 other U.S. cities. Collection was free in 37% of those cities, free for a limited number of items in another 27% and charged a fee in another 37%. (The total exceeds 100% due to rounding). Collection schedules varied, with 10 cities requiring appointments (as in the metro Honolulu pilot project) and six offering regular monthly service (as on the rest of Oahu, outside the pilot project).

You can read the full audit report at 808ne.ws/audit. The department’s responses at the time are found in Chapter 4, where the ENV said it particularly appreciated information about the comparison cities (found in Appendixes A and B) and took note of service elsewhere that “aligned with ENV’s vision for an appointment and fee-based bulky collection system that will increase service efficiency, limit the set out of unauthorized bulky items for collection, and reduce collection costs.”


Write to Kokua Line at Honolulu Star-Advertiser, 7 Waterfront Plaza, Suite 210, 500 Ala Moana Blvd., Honolulu 96813; call 529-4773; fax 529-4750; or email kokualine@staradvertiser.com.

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