East Hawaii News

Community meetings scheduled for Big Island reusable food and drinkware system project

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The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency recently awarded two Big Island agencies grant funding in support of a project to design and implement a reusable foodware and refillable bottle system in Hilo aimed at eliminating the generation of waste from disposable food service ware.

Screenshot of flyer

The Hawai‘i County Department of Environmental Management will receive more than $1.5 million from the EPA’s Solid Waste Infrastructure for Recycling program and the University of Hawai‘i Sea Grant College Program will get $622,000 through the federal agency’s Pollution Prevention: Environmental Justice Through Safer and More Sustainable Products program.

The County will use the funds to develop infrastructure and equipment for the reusable food and drinkware system project, while UH will use its grant to provide technical assistance for Big Island businesses, schools, and community organizations that provide meals, to enable them to make the transition to the reuse system.

Several community events are planned from Oct. 24-28 in Hilo for the public to give input on the aspects of the project, such as how users can be motivated to return foodware and where collection sites should be located. The meetings are scheduled as follows:

  • 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. Oct. 24 at the UH-Hilo Edwin H. Mookini Library, located on the college campus at 200 W Kawili St.
  • 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Oct. 25 at the Mo‘oheau Bandstand, located at 329 Kamehameha Ave.
  • 10 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. Oct. 26 in the Hawai‘i Community College cafeteria, located at 1175 Manono St.
  • 1:30 to 4 p.m. Oct. 27 at Pana‘ewa Community Center, located at 800 Stainback Highway.
  • Noon to 5 p.m. Oct. 28 at East Hawai‘i Cultural Center, located at 141 Kalākaua St.

The meetings are free to attend and food and drink will be provided.

“We are excited to begin working with our community to implement this groundbreaking city-wide reusable foodware and refillable bottle system in Hilo,” said Hawai‘i County Mayor Mitch Roth. “Our residents have been advocating for more recycling and waste reduction systems, and we now have the opportunity to give them more options thanks to the hard work of our Environmental Management team and the trust and assistance of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.”

Research shows that switching half of Hilo’s disposable foodware to reusables would lead to a reduction of 500 tons of solid waste annually and more than 3,000 tons of greenhouse gas emissions.


A successful reuse system in Hilo also can demonstrate how reuse works at a city scale, catalyzing the adoption of reuse systems in cities throughout the United States, with the potential to lead to reductions of plastic pollution and greenhouse gas emissions of a vastly greater magnitude.

For more information, click here.

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