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Drift Nets make their final Ocean crossing to assist in Sustainable Energy Initiative


In May at a residence in Wanini Beach, Kauai, Hawaii, a momentous collaborative event will be happening.  All of the nets that Malama Na ‘Apapa, Surfrider Foundation - Kaua’i Chapter and many, many volunteers, have been removing from Kauai’s beaches and reefs will finally began their journey to Oahu.  These nets will be on their way to HPower (Hawaii’s only waste-to-energy power plant) on Oahu to be recycled for electricity rather than filling up the landfills.

Over the past two years, many organizations have participated in beach and in-water marine debris removal projects.  The derelict fishing nets removed were stockpiled in Wanini to be shipped to HPower.  This pile has been growing from one small truckload in the beginning to the size as large as a garbage truck.  It’s weight is approximately five metric tons or 11,000 lbs.  This entangled mass of marine debris represents the combined efforts of many organizations and volunteers.  The sweat, strain, and time given by these volunteers was done to improve not only the visual esthetic of our island, but decrease the environment impact these derelict fishing gear cause on Kauai’s marine ecosystem and our landfills. 

Malama Na ‘Apapa is a non-profit community-based group founded to support the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s (NOAA) management program to preserve, sustain and restore valuable coral reef ecosystems locally on Kauai.  We have been actively removing marine debris from Kauai’s reefs and beaches since 2006.  Our goal is to stop the steady decline in coral reef health and preserve the marine environment for generations to come.  In order to achieve this goal marine debris removal is one of our main projects.

In expanding Malama Na ‘Apapa’s mission of preserving, sustaining, and restoring coral reef ecosystems we began to research alternative solutions to dispose of the non-biodegradable debris in a sustainable way rather than filling up our landfills.  Following NOAA’s model of disposal for the marine debris removed from Papahanaumokuakea (The Northwest Hawaiian Islands Marine Sanctuary) we collaborated with Matson Navigation Company, Schnitzer Steel Recycling, and HPower to implement this same model of recycling waste-to-energy from Kauai. 

Malama Na ‘Apapa’s waste-to-energy recycling project was made possible largely due to the help of two corporations that have contributed their assets as a chartable contribution to give back to the community and improve our environment.  The first corporation is Matson Navigation Company.  Matson has an environmental, community relations program named “Ka Ipu ‘Aina.”  Through this program Matson donates the use of container equipment to transport the marine debris and pays for the trucking expenses to deliver and pick up the container.   With the assistance of Dewayne Kong and Reni Domingo two of the outstanding Kauai personnel for Matson, we were able to make all the arrangements to transport the pile of marine debris.  Once the container of debris reaches Oahu the second corporation that made this project possible, Schnitzer Steel, will process and transport the debris to HPower.  Schnitzer Steel is a metal recycling company on the island of Kauai who provides this service as a charitable contribution as well.  Before HPower can accept the nets to be burnt, the mass entanglement of nets must be shredded into smaller pieces.  Through our communication with Schnitzer Steel’s representative, Rene Mancho, Schnitzer Steel donates their recycling expertise and equipment to shred the nets into usable pieces.  They then transport the nets to HPower. 

At HPower the nets are incinerated leaving just ash.  This saves many acres of landfill that would never biodegrade and the electricity produced provides an alternative fuel to oil.  According to HPower through their Waste-To-Energy power plant using waste and marine debris to produce electricity, Hawaii has reduced its oil consumption by 10 million barrels of oil since 1990.  This is the use of a cleaner-renewable alternate energy source to oil that makes sense and will always be needed to recycle debris.  The two by-products of burning waste to create electricity are emissions and ash.  HPower uses new technologies to filter the emissions and prevent contamination of the environment.  They are in compliance with the local, state, and federal regulations for emission controls.  The ash that is produced hardens like concrete and has been tested by the National Renewable Energy Labratories (NREL) and determined to pose no threat to the environment.  In fact of every ash sample taken they all passed the Environmental Protection Agencie’s (EPA) Toxicity Characteristic Leaching Procedure (TCLP) analysis test and where determined to pose no threat to the environment.  They are currently researching possible ways to use the ash such as for road production.

In addition to these two key companies that made this project possible there are many other companies, individuals, groups, and schools that have assisted in removing marine debris and protecting our marine ecosystem.  We would like to thank all of these participants for their hard work and continuing support to preserve, sustain, and restore Kauai’s marine ecosystem.

Josh,  Kauai Down Under Dive Shop
Malama Na ‘Apapa volunteer Divers
Captain Paul Clark and Dr. Carl Stepath, Save Our Seas
Surfrider Foundation – Kauai Chapter. Barbara Weidner and Sheri Saari.
Chifess Kamakahelei Middle School, Ms. Ortiz and Ms. Finke’s 8th grade science students (300 students).
Kapaa Middle School, after school program Holomua students. (80 students).
Malama Mahauelpu
Sierra Club
Kauai Path
Local Divers and Fishermen

If anyone has questions and is interested in volunteering to help in the future clean up and recylcing efforts please contact Scott Bacon at 808-482-0683 or email

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