Car dumping on Maui is increasing; illegal sites appear | News, sports, jobs


Abandoned trash piles up in haiku as more and more people discreetly contribute. The county, in coordination with the state, plans to remove the pile in a few weeks. The Maui News / DAKOTA GROSSMAN Photo

Illegal dumping of cars along Maui’s freeways has at least tripled in six years, and the county clerk who handles it attributes some of the increase to disposal costs.

Tamara Farnsworth, manager of the county’s environmental and sustainability department, said late last month that “It has become very expensive to dispose of a car in a permanent facility.”

For example, Hammerhead Metals Island Recycling charges a recycling fee of $ 50 per net tonne for a car with no fluids or tires. A car with fluids and tires is an additional $ 165.

(Certain equipment such as refrigerators, cool boxes, washing machines and dryers are taken away free of charge at Hammerhead Metals.)

The price of scrap a vehicle varies depending on the world metal market “Has definitely changed in recent years” to Farnsworth. Ferrous metals are a globally traded commodity, the prices of which can be influenced by factors such as material demand, tariffs and trade disputes.

A discarded electric stove is in the brush near the entrance to the Waiehu Municipal Golf Course on Friday. The Maui News / MATTHEW THAYER Photo

“Although metal markets can be a factor influencing the abandoned vehicle problem. . . There are many economic and social factors that can lead to someone abandoning their vehicle. “ She said.

“It is the county’s job to respond to the needs of its citizens, and it is the private sector’s job to respond to the commodity markets.” She said. “Maui’s focus is on serving the community and keeping our islands clean.”

To combat the problem, the county launched the Junk Vehicle Disposal Program on Sept. 4, which allows Maui residents to dispose of one vehicle per year for free. Farnsworth said the program will stay in place until it is no longer needed or funding is exhausted. The permanently discarded vehicle must be handed over to an approved scrap factory, such as Hammerhead Metals.

Farnsworth said that an exit survey will be conducted on anyone who takes out the disposal loan.

“According to the survey, a full 30 percent of these people had considered giving up their vehicle, but chose to use the program instead.” She said. “So we just encourage people to use the utility.

This April photo shows broken fridges and stoves that were left on the side of the Hana Highway. Photo courtesy Leilani Muller

“There is an option to do the right thing, we want people to know.”

It is “Everyone’s kuleana” to keep abandoned vehicles off the sides of the highways, Farnsworth said.

“The county is doing its best to provide opportunities to do the right thing, and people need to incorporate their own environmental ethics.” She said.

But not everyone is doing the right thing. There are areas that the county as “Hot spots” for illegal dumping, such as rural parts of central and south Maui, Farnsworth said.

Recently, there has been an accumulation of abandoned vehicles and equipment on the side of the Hana Highway and Hahana Road. That is a “Independent community work”, no district activity, she said.

“We’re not sure whether the community has dumped more after the introduction of the (first) cars, we don’t know the sources.” She said. “As soon as you set up a landfill, others tend to add something to it.”

Cleaning up a makeshift landfill takes a lot of time and coordination with other authorities, Farnsworth said.

“We’re grateful to the community for taking the initiative to help, but we also need to understand that it takes time to respond to unplanned types of efforts and activities.” She said.

The county is working with the state Department of Transportation to hopefully clear the area within the next few weeks, she said.

Haiku-resident Leilani Muller noticed multiple landfills in March and is disappointed that people are leaving their trash behind “the whole time” on the Hana Highway.

“I’m trying to catch them, but they’re sneaky.” said Müller. “People don’t seem to care about their cars and just throw them away when they’re not working.”

Dumping garbage in an improper location poses many threats to the ecosystem. Vehicles and equipment contain hazardous materials and toxic liquids that are unhealthy for plants, animals and people, Farnsworth said.

“Sometimes we find illegal equipment dumps in ravines that can get into streams and into the sea.” She said. “There are also cases where people burn their vehicles.”

The vehicles themselves can pose a security risk because “Some vehicles are vandalized and there could be glass left on the floor or the car has sharp edges.” said Farnsworth.

Vehicles left on a public road and marked with an orange abandoned vehicle sticker can be towed within 24 to 48 hours, Farnsworth said. The owner of the vehicle must pay all fees, which can be up to $ 1,000 in fines. The costs for towing, storage and disposal of the vehicle must also be borne by the owner.

Only vehicles and equipment that are on public property and marked by the Maui Police Department can be removed from the county, she said.

“As we are a small island with limited economies of scale, providing adequate infrastructure in a cost-effective manner is a real challenge.” said Gabrielle Schuerger, executive director of the nonprofit Malama Maui Nui. “So it’s really important that each of us manage our end-of-life resources in a pono-like manner.

“It is the collective action of the community that sustains our leadership culture.”

Malama Maui Nui is funded by the county grants to combat illegal landfilling and provide community training on waste and waste reduction.

Schuerger said it must be a joint effort by local residents and government and non-profit officials to reduce the environmental, economic and social impact of illegal dumping.

“If community members are concerned about these issues, it’s really important that they get involved.” She said. “It doesn’t matter whether it’s asking elected officials to fund the waste infrastructure, helping a neighbor transport a device to the recycling site, volunteering for a community clean-up, or donating to organizations that make the clean-up easier.”

To report a suspected abandoned vehicle on a public road or property, call the MPD’s emergency number at 244-6400 and dial 0. The report must include a specific location of the vehicle, make, model, color and length of time Stay in the location and, if applicable, the license plate number.

For more information on metals and abandoned vehicles, visit To learn more about the Malama Maui Nui nonprofit program, visit their website at

* Dakota Grossman can be reached at [email protected].

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