Like a giant rubbish bin stuffed to the brim, Kauai's landfill is nearly chock-full. It's a several hundred million dollar problem with a solution as clear as it is complex: The island's 81,000 tons of annual waste needs a new burial ground.
"This is our single largest public works project for Kauai County — ever," said Lyle Tabata, Kauai County's deputy director of public works.
The existing landfill in Kekaha has about 10 years of life left before it reaches capacity. A decade might seem like ample time to build a new landfill — until you consider that this lifespan estimate is dependent on a very big "if."
If — and only if — the island can successfully implement an aggressive series of recycling programs geared at achieving a 70 percent waste diversion rate by 2020, the Kekaha landfill has about 10 years of life left.