Joelle Simonpietri and her crew are clearing invasive flora, concrete detritus and derelict concrete-making machinery from a property in Kapolei that they hope will eventually close the loop on a significant portion of Oahu’s unrecycled waste. The site is slated to become the Aloha Sustainable Materials Recycling and Fertilizer Facility, a $40 million project that would make biofuel and bioenergy from construction and demolition waste and transform invasive plants and grasses into biochar, an increasingly popular and climate friendly form of fertilizer.

In 2022, a quarter of Oahu’s 1.6 million tons of waste came from construction and demolition; 11% was not recycled. Most of the island’s waste goes to Honolulu’s H-Power plant but much of the construction and demolition waste — treated or painted woods, for example — is dumped. Like H-Power, Simonpietri Enterprise’s proprietary technology will convert about 200 tons a day of that waste into power and gas and ash but in a low-emissions, air-starved process called pyrolysis.

“It’s more like pressure cooking,” Simonpietri said. The gases harnessed in the process will be used to create biofuels and only ash — about 10% of the total mass originally fed through the equipment — will need to be thrown away.

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Author: Thomas Heaton, Honolulu City Beat
Thomas Heaton, Honolulu City Beat