City Livability Awards Winner
Sponsored by the U.S. Conference of Mayors
is proud to be the recipient of an
Outstanding Achievement Award for Tour de Trash.
For 28 years this award has recognized mayoral leadership for developing
and implementing programs that improve
the quality of life in America's cities.
all the participating businesses and waste/recycling
companies that have contributed to the success of Tour
FREE Tour Series
Costs and Sponsors
Custom Tours for School Groups
The 2014 Tour de Trash will have a late start this year while the Recycling Branch gears up with new staff members. The tour guides are all important to this successful education program. As soon as we are ready to go, the 2014 tour schedule will be announced in our Wasteline e-newsletter. Please subscribe by clicking here.
Tour de Trash is in its 16th year, and those interested know
they better reserve their seat quickly. Buses are usually fully booked
within a couple weeks with long wait lists for each tour. It’s
surprising how many people are interested in getting up-close and
personal with our trash.
And that’s good, because we face some challenges in waste
management and need to be knowledgeable in determining future directions.
On an island, land is one of our most precious resources, and reducing
our use of landfills is a critical goal of our waste management strategy.
In order to move forward successfully with major recycling initiatives
and alternative technologies, it’s imperative that we engage
the public in intelligent discussion. Raising public awareness of
our opala– through Tour de Trash, our opala.org website and
other educational programs – helps to facilitate better public
discussions and decision-making on recycling and waste management
“How we manage our island’s waste today will affect generations to come. The more we know about systems and technology, the better equipped we are to develop and participate in programs at home and at work. Tour de Trash offers an opportunity to get an up-close look at the recycling and waste processing operations on Oahu and peek behind those “Employees Only” doors at island businesses that have instituted successful recycling programs. Now in its 15th year, Tour de Trash is an award-winning educational program. Get on board and learn more about the dynamic world of waste” – Kirk Caldwell, Mayor
Oahu’s annual recycling rates have increased five-fold from
approximately 100,000 tons in 1990 to more than 500,000 tons today.
Based on a total waste stream of 1.5 million tons annually, that’s
a 35 percent recycling rate – well above the national average
of 27-32 percent. Combined with waste-to-energy, Oahu’s landfill
diversion rate is at 62 percent, again exceeding the national average
of 41-44 percent.
There is more to accomplish, and the job gets tougher as we reach
for higher diversion rates. Public awareness through programs such
as Tour de Trash is critical to moving any new initiatives forward.
Tour de Trash is a collaborative event, coordinated by the City
and supported by island businesses engaged in recycling at many levels.
Would you like to take a virtual
Tour de Trash? Not quite
the same as being there, but may help you decide if you would
like to sign up for one or more of the tours.
The recycling and waste processing sites are most popular.
People get to see the inner workings of the H-POWER waste-to-energy
facility -- look into the furnace; peek into the RDF (refuse-derived
fuel) room; see how metals are extracted from the mixed
waste for recycling. They walk through a canyon of recycled
paper bales at Island Recycling. They talk with the recycling
facility managers, hear about their challenges, ask questions.
They walk the sort line at Honolulu Recovery Systems, where
the materials collected in their neighborhood recycling
bins are sorted by commodity.
Just like tourists, they pose for pictures in front of
the mountains of metal at Schnitzer Steel Hawaii and get
free samples of compost at Hawaiian Earth Products.
A host of businesses take the tour groups back-of-the-house
to show how they’ve instituted successful recycling
programs – the Hard Rock Café, Hilton Hawaiian Village,
Hawaii Convention Center are among the leaders. The Sheraton Waikiki
shows off its mini MRF. Young Laundry demonstrates how
it put a biodiesel fuel to work.
The facilities and businesses are proud to have this opportunity
to showcase their operations to a local group of interested
citizens. They know as well as the City, that educating
our public about the challenges we face in waste management
today will provide strong public support for the next directions.
Also, consider taking virtual tour on The Green Channel. Check out dozens of story titles including “Where’d Our Stuff Go?” about the journey of the materials in the blue carts; “Food For Worms,” about worm composting in schools; “Green Waste,” about Oahu’s green waste composting; “Great Waste, Less Filling,” about the Waimanalo Gulch Sanitary Landfill; “H-POWER;” and lots more!
Costs and Sponsors
Tour de Trash is FREE to the public. The tour includes round
trip site-to-site bus transportation. The bus stops in a
lunch-friendly area and participants should anticipate spending
$5 to $15 for lunch or can brown bag it. Parking is free at Kapolei Hale for Tours 1 and 2, and $5 with validation at the Princess Kaiulani Hotel for Tour 3. Please arrive at start-finish location 20-30 minutes before the scheduled departure time. Tour buses depart at 8:30 sharp. Tour sites are subject to change.
Tour guides on each bus are City Department of Environmental
Services staff. Each participating tour site makes their
facility available to the tour group for about an hour and
provides in-house staff to conduct the tour and respond to
questions. Many of the tour stops offer refreshments to the
tour groups as well.
Tour de Trash is promoted with print ads in all of the City’s
major newspapers and on the City’s opala.org website.
City staff handles registration, planning and coordination.
The City supports the costs of the buses, tour guides, promotion,
registration, planning and site coordination. The participating
tour sites offer their facilities and staffing resources
at no charge, and are considered sponsors and partners:
Baseyard Hawaii Reuse Facility
City Board of Water Supply
City Department of Environmental Services – Collection Systems Maintenance
City Department of Facilities Maintenance – Automotive Equipment Services
Fasi Municipal Building
Gyotaku Japanese Restaurant
H-POWER – Covanta Energy
Hard Rock Café
Hawaii Convention Center
Hawaiian Earth Products
Hilton Hawaiian Village
Honouliuli Wastewater Treatment Plant
Honouliuli Water Reclamation Facility
Hyatt Regency Waikiki
Pacific Corporate Solutions
RRR Recycling Services
Sand Island Wastewater Treatment Plant
Schnitzer Steel Hawaii
Waimanalo Gulch Sanitary Landfill – Waste Management
Young Laundry & Dry Cleaning
Past tour sites include:
Access Information Management
Green Bed Factory
Hickam Air Force Base
Honolulu Recovery Systems
Kahala Hotel & Resort
Navy Biosolids Composting Facility
Queen’s Medical Center
Tripler Army Medical Center
Unitek Solvent Services
Tour de Trash is an outgrowth of the annual Partnership
for the Environment education conferences the City coordinated
since 1995. These conferences were developed to educate our
business community about the benefits and how-to’s
of implementing recycling into their waste management practices.
The partners included business leaders from hotels, restaurants,
building management, food and beverage industry, dry cleaning,
media, and publishers, who had become experts in recycling
and were willing to share their expertise with other businesses
to help them get started or improve their existing recycling
The conferences were full-day events held at local hotels.
Workshops ran in breakout meeting rooms morning and afternoon,
with an awards luncheon midday to recognize new members and
outstanding recycling programs. The partners presented their
programs in video, PowerPoint and display boards. And because
each conference was held at a Partner hotel, the conference
included a back-of-the-house tour of the hotel’s recycling
People commented repeatedly on how they learned so much
from the tour.
In 1998 when the Partner hotel site shifted out of Waikiki
to the Leeward side of Oahu, where many of our recycling
and waste processing operations are located, we saw an opportunity
to introduce the conference attendees to a full morning of
site visits to the landfill, waste-to-energy facility, composting
facility, and metal recycling company. And at the end of
the day, all we heard was how fabulous and educational the
We finally got it. Getting up-close and personal with trash
and having the opportunity to speak with the managers onsite
was far more vivid than watching it in a slide show.
In 1999 we launched the first Tour de Trash – an open
house of all our Partner businesses and facilities. Instead
of bringing our experts into a sterile workshop room to present
their recycling programs, we loaded our attendees onto six
buses and brought them to the Partners. Each bus toured different
sites with particular industry focus – restaurant/hotel,
workplace, recycled products, construction and demolition,
recycling and waste processing – allowing attendees
to gather as much information as possible in their area of
The conference was now “all tour;” workshops
were conducted on-site. The buses pulled out at 9:00 a.m.
and returned around 4:00 p.m. when everyone gathered for
a pau hana networking with drinks and pupus.
You would think the participants would be exhausted by a
full day of trash, but as each bus unloaded, they strolled
to the networking session talkative and bright-faced. They
ate, drank and talked trash for a couple hours, and many
of them returned the next year to take another tour.
Each year Tour de Trash has grown in popularity, beyond
the business sector audience to a broad general public group,
including college students, educators, senior citizens, military,
state and other county government, and community leaders.
The interest has been overwhelming. The 2002 tours fully
booked in the first week of promotion – 300 filled
our six bus tours with more than 500 on the wait list.
Tour de Trash 2004 evolved into a year-round, monthly tour
series, including 12 full- and half-day tours, one each month. This enabled those
interested in more than one tour to sign up for both. The
City was able to provide additional special tours for teachers,
school groups, solid waste advisory committees, technical
associations and visiting professionals. And we are able
to coordinate and staff the tours with in-house personnel
resources as we now run the tours one at a time rather than
six in one day. We have since eliminated the half-day tours
and conduct six full-day, double size tours.