Hawaii may begin sending more than bananas and pineapples to the mainland. The U.S. Department of Agriculture's Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS) has proposed a rule that would allow some of Hawaii's municipal solid waste (MSW) to be exported to the continental United States. Under the proposal, the waste would not include agricultural or yard wastes and would be contained in airtight plastic bales to prevent the spread of plant pests.
The change comes amid concern of dwindling landfill space, including from U.S. Sen. Daniel Inouye, D-Hawaii, says Shannon Hamm, assistant deputy administrator of the service's policy program development staff.
According to the rule posted in the Federal Register, Oahu likely would account for the majority of waste being exported, with estimates at 100,000 tons to 350,000 tons annually. Oahu produces nearly 1.6 million tons of MSW per year, 500,000 tons of which are landfilled.
Among others, the second largest private hauler of MSW in Honolulu and U.S. Rep. Doc Hastings, R-Wash., have expressed support. Hastings has suggested a landfill in Klickitat County, Wash., as “the preferred destination.”
Meanwhile, the National Solid Wastes Management Association, which has suggested further assessment of the baling technology, and the Nez Perce Tribe, with aboriginal territory in parts of Idaho, Oregon, Washington and Montana, have voiced reservations.
If the public comments submitted aren't “devastating to the science we've proposed,” Hamm says, a final rule will be posted and parties interested in accepting the waste will be allowed to begin working with officials. To view the rule or public comments that have been made, visit www.regulations.gov.