Ask the Mayor: Why Has Battery Recycling Been Stopped?
Mayor Alan Arakawa answers some of the questions submitted to his office staff.
Submit your own questions about County of Maui programs, services, operations or policies to Mayor Alan Arakawa via email at [email protected], call 270-7855 or send them by mail to 200 S. High St., 9th Floor, Wailuku, HI 96793. Questions submitted will be considered for inclusion in the “Ask the Mayor” column.
Q: I read that the recycling of household batteries is being discontinued, which is upsetting. Why is that and what are we supposed to do with our dead batteries now?
A: There are a few components to this, but I’ll start with the funding aspect. Costs for this program, as well as the Paint Exchange Program, have risen, and available funding has gone down.
The cost to provide the batteries and paint programs are very high compared to other diversion programs, and the state funding that we receive for other recycling grants has been significantly reduced.
What’s more, motor oil recycling was prioritized as just one gallon of used motor oil can contaminate a million gallons of water, and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency has determined that both household batteries and unused paint may be discarded safely in our landfill if they are properly contained and handled prior to disposal.
After carefully weighing all of these factors, the Grants Review Committee decided that the grants for these two material types would be discontinued. So at least for now, we are instructed to wrap household batteries in newspaper and dispose of them in the trash.
Other options would be to buy rechargeable batteries, or to recycle used batteries through a mail-back program by purchasing a box with pre-paid postage and shipping the batteries to a processor.
Household paint should be solidified or absorbed before being disposed of directly at the landfill.
For more information, visit www.mauicounty.gov/recycle or call the Maui County Recycling Hotline at 270-7880.