One company on Hawaii Island has assumed a more macro view of recycling and in only a year has filled an entire baseyard with salvaged material from demolished structures. Re-use Hawaii is a nonprofit deconstruction business, and the only one of its kind, focused on reducing the single largest landfill waste stream in the state. “In Hawaii, 30% of waste comes from construction and demolition material, and a lot of it is actually re-usable,” said Quinn Vittum, the company’s chief operating officer. “We’re also generating an affordable community resource from that, so it’s kind of a no-brainer.”
Vittum expanded Re-use Hawaii, which began on Oahu in 2006, to West Hawaii last year. Thus far, the eight-person Hawaii Island team has spent the majority of its time and effort surgically dismantling Kona Village Resort, which was ravaged by a tsunami that slammed into leeward shores in 2011.
The company will also begin conducting select-site deconstruction on portions of the Canoe House at the Mauna Lani Bay Hotel and Bungalows. “We look at how a building was built and do it in reverse, where as standard demolition is to roll in with a machine and crunch the building,” Vittum said.
The process begins with the removal of non-structural materials like copper or wiring. Next to go is drywall and carpet. Then Re-use Hawaii begins stripping lumber and other usable materials from the roof down. It’s meticulous, said Kona Redistribution Center Manager Damian Bilardo, but there’s value in the process for each party involved.
“The objective is saving as much from going into that landfill as possible,” Bilardo continued. “Whatever we can salvage we want to provide to the public. We try to make that as clean and processed and plentiful for everyone.” End users, or customers who buy the recycled material, tend to be do-it-yourself homeowners or general contractors.