By Léo Azambuja
The county government is moving toward a more sustainable island in many different fronts.
Despite some criticism for not having more aggressive recycling efforts, Mayor Bernard Carvalho Jr. said in his State of the County address in March that Kaua‘i’s recycling rate is at 43 percent, nearly double the diversion rate in 2002 and higher than the 35 percent national average.
This increase can be attributed to availability of programs, introduction and enforcement of legislation, economic incentives and an increase of awareness and participation, according to county officials.
The Kaua‘i Agricultural Advisory Committee, under the county Office of Economic Development, helps to guide the administration on agricultural issues, county spokeswoman Mary Daubert said.
The administration is a major sponsor of the Kaua‘i Grown program and provides funding for many agricultural and agriculturally related programs and organizations.
The county Sunshine Market program started in 1981, after a bill authored in the 1970s by Councilwoman JoAnn Yukimura. Today, there are eight Sunshine Markets on the island, with a total of 233 vendors who generated nearly $1 million in reported revenues in 2013, up from $600,000 in 2010.
About 32 percent of the county’s passenger vehicles are hybrid or electric, and the county offers public charging stations at the Lihu‘e Civic Center, according to Daubert.
The Kaua‘i Bus doubled its ridership since 2008, Carvalho said in his State of the County, and now provides more than 800,000 passenger trips annually.
The county and Kaua‘i Island Utility Cooperative are working to replace high-pressure sodium lights with LED lights in streetlights, which should cut their energy consumption by half.
An aggressive awareness campaign encourages employees to conserve energy, and all county facilities have implemented better systems for tracking energy use, Daubert said.
Additionally, a staff-level Green Team was formed in 2012 to improve the county’s resource management, and already have tackled several projects.