Tour de Trash 2014

2007 City Livability Awards Winner
Sponsored by the U.S. Conference of Mayors
Honolulu 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.
Congratulations to all the participating businesses and waste/recycling companies that have contributed to the success of Tour de Trash.

FREE Tour Series

Tour Schedule/Registration
Virtual Tour
Costs and Sponsors
Custom Tours for School Groups


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 initiatives.

“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 700,000 tons today. Based on a total waste stream of 1.6 million tons annually, that’s a 45 percent recycling rate – well above the national average of 27-32 percent. Combined with waste-to-energy, Oahu’s landfill diversion rate is almost 75 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.

Tour Schedule/Registration

Recycling & Waste Processors Tour

Saturday, September 13, 2014
8:30 am - 12:30 pm
Start-finish: Kapolei Hale


Tour the H-POWER waste-to-energy plant, which processes over 600,000 tons of Oahu's waste annually, reducing volume by approximately 90%, while generating 10% of the island's electricity. H-POWER also extracts virtually 100% of the metals from the mixed waste for recycling. Hawaiian Earth Products will showcase its green waste grinder, windrow processing operations and its Menehune Magic line of compost products. RRR Recycling Services will show its sort line and processing operations for the City's curbside mixed recyclables collection program. At Schnitzer Steel you will see where cars, refrigerators, and other scrap metals are shredded and processed for shipment. 

At the conclusion of the tour, the buses will return to Kapolei Hale where City recycling staff will engage participants in a brief discussion of the tour and the City's recycling program. Recycling staff will also be distributing some of

Virtual Tour

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. For certain tours, 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. 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
Grace Pacific
Gyotaku Japanese Restaurant
H-POWER – Covanta Energy
Hard Rock Café
Hawaii Convention Center
Hawaiian Earth Products
Honolulu Hale
Hilton Hawaiian Village
Honouliuli Wastewater Treatment Plant
Honouliuli Water Reclamation Facility
Hyatt Regency Waikiki
Island Demo
Island Recycling
Island Shell
Pacific Biodiesel
Pacific Corporate Solutions
Re-use Hawaii
Refrigerant Recycling
RRR Recycling Services
Sand Island Wastewater Treatment Plant
Schnitzer Steel Hawaii
Sheraton Waikiki
Waimanalo Gulch Sanitary Landfill – Waste Management
Young Laundry & Dry Cleaning

Past tour sites include:
Access Information Management
AES Hawaii
Green Bed Factory
Hickam Air Force Base
Honolulu Recovery Systems
Honolulu Zoo
Ihilani Hotel
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 programs.

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 operation.

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 tour was.

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 interest.

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.

© 2005 City & County of Honolulu's Department of Environmental Services.