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County closing up scrap metal areas

Big Island commercial operators disposing scrap metal and those getting rid of motor vehicles will have to find another outlet starting March 28.

The county is closing its scrap metal receiving areas at the Kealakehe and Hilo Transfer Stations in an attempt to save money, said Dora Beck, acting director of the Department of Environmental Management. She could not on Wednesday project how much could potentially be saved.

For a decade, the county’s contractor, Big Island Scrap Metal, has been crushing and removing the scrap, shipping it off island and selling it. The company’s contract ends March 27. The average cost of operating the scrap metal program is roughly $639,000 annually, Beck said.

The county instead wants an off-site vendor to receive and recycle the scrap metal. Under the new contract, the county would weigh and haul the materials collected in bins at the Kealakehe and Hilo Transfer Stations to the vendor. The county is procuring a new contractor and the project will go out to bid “very soon, within next month,” Beck said.

By not having the scrap metal processing operations at the transfer stations, liability for the county decreases. Sites with fuels, oils and coolants can be an environmental concern if there’s a spill or leak. Not having such items reduces the chance of having to spend money on cleanup, Beck said.

Once the closure goes into effect, only residential scrap metal recycling will be allowed at the transfer stations. Appliances, metal fencing and other scrap metal will be still accepted at these county facilities, but the bins are for residential loads only. There will be no charge for scrap metal recycling, Beck said.

“As far as scrap metal goes, nothing will change for residents,” she said.

Those with motor vehicles and commercial loads will have to find an alternate drop-off location.

For motor vehicles, the public will have to use private businesses that offer junk car removal and pickup. The county will still be running its abandoned vehicle program and collected vehicles will be taken to the impound yard before being hauled to the off-site vendor for processing, Beck said.

According to the county, several private businesses on the island “might pay for scrap metal upon acceptance.” In West Hawaii, Atlas Recycling Centers on Pawai Place in Kailua-Kona was suggested. In East Hawaii, the county listed Atlas Recycling Centers on Makaala Street in Hilo, Mr. K’s Recycle & Redemption on Kinoole Street in Hilo and Reynolds Recycling on Kilauea Street in Hilo as possible places.

None of the companies on the island have the proper health permits to accept steel or iron, said Atlas Recycling Centers office manager Kamaile Henriques in relaying a response from owner Mike Allen. Allen was unavailable for additional comment Wednesday.

According to the state Department of Health’s Solid & Hazardous Waste Branch, anyone who receives and handles solid waste, including scrap metal and nonferrous metals like copper and brass, must have a permit. Owners and operators who also want to accept and process construction and demolition waste must also have a permit.

Lene Ichinotsubo of the Solid & Hazardous Waste Branch said Pepeekeo-based Cash For Cars, Business Services Hawaii in Keaau and Atlas Recycling Centers in Kona are among those allowed to accept clean nonferrous and ferrous scrap metal. Cash For Cars was issued a permit to process automobiles.

Ichinotsubo said just because permits are issued doesn’t mean companies are operational and nor does it mean they are accepting everything the permit allows. She stressed the importance of checking with the companies. A message left for Cash For Cars was not returned as of press time.

The Solid & Hazardous Waste Branch has also received four permit applications from other companies on the island interested in processing automobiles. Ichinotsubo could not provide any further information about these permits.

The Atlas Recycling Center’s website states the company accepts aluminum, copper, radiators and batteries.

Brass, car starters and alternators, stainless steel and lead will eventually be accepted. There’s no mention of appliances.

When it comes to scrap, Roy Kadota, owner of Mr. K’s Recycle & Redemption, said his company only accepts nonferrous metals, such as aluminum, copper, bronze, stainless steel, brass and lead. The prices vary day by day for each commodity, he added.

While appliances are not accepted, Kadota said his company is only one on the island that accepts electronic scrap waste.

Bruce Iverson of Reynolds Recycling said his company has been buying scrap from Hawaii residents for more than 30 years. Reynolds accepts aluminum, brass, copper and stainless steel, but no appliances or white goods. All accepted materials are weighed and the company pays per pound, he added.

When it comes to purchasing copper, Iverson said there’s additional documentation required by law — either a copy of the original receipt or a notarized declaration. Ownership notarization sheets are available at Reynolds sites and on the company’s website.

For more information, call 961-8552 or visit