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Participation in HI-5 recycling program remains strong


People in Hawaii recycled more than 686 million containers from July 1, 2010, to June 30, 2011, or about 76 percent of all beverage containers sold, according to the “HI-5” recycling program administered by the state Department of Health.

Last year, from July 1, 2009 to June 30, 2010, the recycling rate was also 76 percent. The highest annual rate was 79 percent from July 1, 2008 to June 30, 2009.

Under the “HI-5” program, consumers pay 6 cents on each beverage container purchased: a 5-cent deposit to be returned to the consumer when the container is recycled and a non-refundable 1-cent container fee to cover the cost of recycling the glass, plastic or aluminum.

“The HI-5 program continues to be a great success. The five-cent redemption helps reduce litter at our parks and beaches and has kept billions of bottles and cans out of our garbage,” said Gary Gill, DOH Deputy Director of Environmental Health.

DOH has also determined that there will be no increase in the 1-cent fee charged on each recyclable beverage container for the next 12 months. State law requires that the program determine the annual redemption rate by Aug. 1 of each year.

State law requires the per-container fee to increase from 1 cent to 1.5 cents if the statewide redemption rate exceeds 70 percent, unless the director of health, in consultation with the state auditor, determines that a fee increase is not needed.

The fund balance in the Deposit Beverage Container Special Fund is projected to remain adequate to support Hawaii’s “HI-5” recycling program for another year.

“We will always seek ways to cut administration costs before choosing to implement container fee increases,” Gill said. “To continue to increase Hawaii’s excellent recycling rate, we must ensure that the program is adequately funded.”

Since the inception of the “HI-5” program in 2005, a total of more than 4 billion containers have been recycled. During that time, people in Hawaii have recycled an average of more than 3,075 containers per person.

The Deposit Beverage Container Special Fund built up a cash reserve during the early years of the program when fewer containers were redeemed for the 5-cent deposit.

As redemption rates have risen, the cash reserves have declined.

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