Updated: Aug 20, 2021
It goes to Taiwan.
That's right, all the cardboard collected by Hawaii County is compressed into giant bricks and shipped over 5,000 miles away to the country of Taiwan. Now, this is better than simply landfilling all of it. There were approximately 1,900 tons of cardboard collected and shipped from Hawaii County alone. That's not including the cardboard which is sent directly from stores and parking lots directly to the harbors. The actual amount of cardboard could be much larger. It's hard to say; there's not clear sources of data available which are tracking this. Now, this is a statement of how things are. The responsibility for this volume of material is distributed among the entire ecosystem, from the consumers all the way to the investors and manufacturers. Cardboard is fairly recyclable. It is a significant part of the one of the largest waste streams in the US, paper. However, we don't have any recycling here in Hawaii. What we do is transport. Moving cardboard from A to B to Taiwan. Meanwhile, our farmers and garden stores import soil supplies in big boxes. Our local businesses import packaging supplies in boxes. All at a higher cost because of the distance it has to travel to get here. It is time to develop alternative systems.