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November 8, 2004

My 5-cents

So, Hawaii finally figured out that by charging and reimbursing consumers a nickel for every can bought would help reduce refuse in the landfills.

Welcome to the '70's, Hawaii.

For an island state I would think this should have been figured out a long time ago. I wasn’t even aware of this new deposit program until today when a friend of mine brought it up while talking about other political agendas. My wife knew about it only because she happened to read a little white card at the checkout counter explaining the 5-cent charge on selected cans and bottles.

What I find appalling is that the redemption centers aren’t even scheduled to go into effect until January 1, 2005. I’ll touch more on this later.

On October 31, 2004 the Honolulu Advertiser had a story about the new Deposit Beverage Container Program. I found several statements in the article of noteworthy mention.

"No matter how you do it, there's going to be issues at first," said Jeff Mikulina, Sierra Club Hawai'i director and a key proponent for the measure.

I would have to disagree with this statement on the grounds that this is the mentality of the people who are in charge of state programs and such here in HI. They think it will be screwed up at first, and with good cause, because every other program they try to implement has start-up problems.

After 12 years of seeing this “beta” way of thinking in Hawaii I could come up with a whole list of programs or initiatives that started knowing they were going to fail or have major issues beforehand. But hey, why start off with a good product when you can just fix it as you go? Bill Gates operates that way so why can’t the state of Hawaii?

Some businesses expect the worst, saying that customers will not understand why they can't redeem their bottles and cans right away.”

This is true. People will wonder why they are being charged and extra $1.44 per case when they won’t be able to redeem their deposit until January 1, 2005.

”Merchants have complained that the public needs more time to learn about the new law, and proponents have said the state waited too long to begin the education effort.”

So are stores just now realizing that a lot of people that shop there are freakin stupid? More time to learn about the law? How much time does it take to say:

“Hey, you are being charged a nickel per can extra now. Bring back the empties and you’ll get the nickel back. This keeps cans and shit out of our landfills. It’s good for the environment.”

Yeah, I can see where the merchants will really have to go out of their way to ensure people understand this law. For crying out loud assholes this isn’t some new Section 179 tax law that affects small business maximum deductions. It’s a nickel a can people. Put up some freakin signs that people can read. And try putting them in the soda isle. Here is an example of the “education” process for this program. CHART Although I applaud the efforts of using pretty pictures in the chart, people here have a hard time reading traffic signs. This chart is way over their heads.

I made a few phone calls today when I got home from work about the program and I ended up more pissed off. First I called the Pearl Harbor Navy Exchange “Customer Service” and after finally getting someone that didn’t speak broken English was transferred to another number. It rang and rang and rang…. Got transferred to the CS department again and after 3 times of getting rerouted to the welcome menu I hung up. Why didn’t this surprise me?

I got online and called the Recycle Hawaii office. Here is an excerpt form their home page:

Recycle Hawai`i is a 501(c)3 non-profit educational organization serving Hawai`i Island. We currently offer free public recycling educational services on behalf of the County of Hawai`i, the State Department of Health, and our contributors.

The mission of Recycle Hawai`i is to promote resource awareness and recycling on the Island of Hawai'i. To achieve this, we educate and inform people about environmentally sound resource management and recycling opportunities for a more sustainable future.

Sounded good to me so I called the number at the bottom of the page to inquire about the program. Admittedly, it was a setup. I asked where the redemption centers are and this is the response I got:

”Oh, this is the information line. Let me get your number and our main office will call you back.”

Let me get this straight, the INFORMATION LINE can’t give me any answers on the program? Who the hell can, then? This state really pisses me off sometimes. She gave me another number to the Main office and after talking to the guy for 5 minutes I found out that I had been given the number to Recycle Hawaii on the Big Island. I guess none of the offices here on Oahu would have had the answers I was looking for.

Incidentally, here is a picture of a woman educating people here in Hawaii about the importance of recycling. She is using a satanic looking puppet that would make Martha Stewart puke even though the puppet was made strictly from recycled material.

I called the Department of Health who is spearheading the whole process including the advertising campaign. I was immediately referred to the Solid/Hazardous Waste division. Thank you, Marilyn, for giving me the same useless and damning information Recycle Hawaii gave me.

Here is the program in a nutshell:

  • Each can comes with a 5-cent deposit charge and 1-cent bottling fee.

  • The deposit is refundable but the bottling fee isn't.

  • You will be able to redeem the deposit but only on January 1, 2005 when the redemption centers will be in place.

  • There is a two month gap in the program so that the nickels can be collected prior to the actual startup date so that these nickels can actually help pay for the redemption centers.

  • Store your cans for two months if you want your deposit back.

  • You will only get your deposit back for cans that are stamped with the deposit notice.

  • There are no cans that are currently stamped with the notice.

  • Bottling companies need more money and time to stamp their bottles and cans.

  • I have two chances of shortly getting a nickel reimbursement: slim and none.

  • Nobody knows about this bullshit because the state is going to wait until the last minute to try and educate people about the new container law.

Why, oh why, is everything so hard on this island? Although Hawaii is only the 11th state to have this program in place, there 10 other states that successfully initiated the same program or have at least worked out the bugs. Massachusetts was the last state to implement this program and that was in 1983! I think they might have the bugs worked out by now, Hawaii. Why don’t you freakin talk to them and find out how they did it? Why must every new program be compared to a monkey screwing a football?

I know the answer- because the legislators for Hawaii were, unfortunately, raised here. Forget global perspective, try a national perspective. Try looking east to find solutions and by East I don’t mean “Far East”. I mean east as in, “Hey there are 48 states over there that might be able to help you out.”


And if the program’s piss poor planning isn’t enough, there’s the slogan for the program. Leave it to this state to incorporate some stupid Hawaiian word (see my post below on Hawaiian words in funded programs) in its program.

"It’s good for you. It’s good for the aina”

In case your Hawaiian is a little rusty or you have the I.Q. of a potato and can’t figure out what it means in the context of this post, “aina” means land. Standing on its own, however, that sentence could easily be misinterpreted as a slogan for a yeast infection cream or something similar.

Until next time, aloha!

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