One would be hard-pressed to think of an activity of people that does not result in the production of solid waste (we will use the terms garbage, rubbish, solid waste, trash and refuse interchangeably). Because waste by definition consists of things no one wants, waste gets no respect and becomes the butt of jokes. However, there are a few who find rubbish interesting. Perhaps the fascination is the simple result of long association. This paper is written by one who has had a long career association with rubbish and wants to share his fascination. The writer thanks those whose rubbish made it possible for his children to go to college.
"One of the most vexing problems confronting the City and County of Honolulu is without question the disposal of its garbage." This still-relevant quotation came from the June 1931 edition of the Star-Bulletin. But certainly the problems of refuse collection and disposal predate 1931. We will start our history of garbage and the Refuse Division in the 1850's, during which time the Hawaiian Monarchy provided urban public services. We can assume that these public services included refuse collection because when county governments were established by the Territorial Legislature in 1905, the Territory turned over a "garbage crematorium" to Oahu County. The type of solid waste handled by this crematorium is not known; a guess would be that it handled a portion of Honolulu's more putrescible waste, while more combustible waste went to open dumps. The turnover was conditional: the Territory told the fledgling Oahu County that the Territory would take the crematorium back if the County could not operate it properly. The Territory was somewhat of a youngster itself, having been established only a few years earlier in 1900.
In 1905, garbage removal was one of only six items appearing in the County of Oahu's monthly operating expenses:
|Electric Light Plant||$1,500|
In the rural areas of the new County, plantation supervisors had close ties with County supervisors, which resulted in cooperative efforts in the joint use of men and equipment.