Hawai’i – Greenhouse Gas Sequestration Task Force

In June 2018, Hawai’i’s Governor Ige signed HB 2182 into law as “Act 15,” establishing a permanent Greenhouse Gas Sequestration Task Force in the Office of Planning and Sustainable Development. Act 15 repealed Act 33 (2017), replacing the Carbon Farming Task Force with the new Greenhouse Gas Sequestration Task Force (GHGSTF). The GHGSTF is made up of 19 members, representing state and local government, universities and extension programs, environmental nonprofits, agricultural/ranching associations, and other relevant appointees. 

Act 15 also established a statewide target to both adapt to climate change and mitigate greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions by sequestering more GHGs than the state produces by 2045: 

“This chapter establishes the framework for the State to: 
(1) Adapt to the inevitable impacts of global warming and climate change, including rising sea levels, temperatures, and other risk factors; and 
(2) Mitigate its greenhouse gas emissions by sequestering more atmospheric carbon and greenhouse gases than the State produces as quickly as practicable, but no later than 2045.” 


Goals and Tasks

The Greenhouse Gas Sequestration Task Force (GHGSTF) aims to align Hawai’i’s climate initiative goals with the state’s clean energy and carbon sequestration efforts. The mandated tasks include:

  • Establish a greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions baseline as well as short- and long-term GHG sequestration benchmarks;
  • Identify criteria to measure GHG sequestration that may be used to create a certification program for practices that generate agricultural and GHG benefits; 
  • Identify policies that would promote increased GHG sequestration and build healthy soils;
  • “Identify ways to increase the generation and use of compost in Hawai‘i to build healthy soils”;
  • Identify policies to add trees and vegetation in urban areas to mitigate high temperatures and increase climate resiliency; 
  • Make recommendations to the legislature and governor regarding measures to increase climate resiliency, build healthy soils, provide greenhouse gas benefits, or cool urban areas;
  • Develop incentives and funding mechanisms for these practices; and
  • Provide research, education, and technical support. 


Community Composters Get Involved

The GHGSTF held meetings biannually until 2020, every three months in 2021, and now meets every other month in 2022. In their August 2021 meeting, the task force welcomed Chantal Chung, Project Manager of Mā‘ona Community Garden, to give a presentation on the greenhouse gas sequestration and community benefits of waste diversion through vermicomposting. Mā‘ona Community Garden is a member of ILSR’s Community Composter Coalition, a coalition of over 200 community-oriented composter organizations. Ms. Chung underscored the need for increased funding opportunities and investment into composting in addition to supportive legislation, a sentiment that was echoed by Task Force member Makaleʻa Ane.



The task force is set to present a preliminary report to the legislature and climate change mitigation and adaptation commission no later than 20 days before the convening of Hawai’i’s 2023 legislative session, and will submit a final report no later than 20 days before the convening of the 2024 legislative session. 

During their March 16th 2022 meeting, the task force formed three Permitted Interaction Groups (PIGs), one on agriculture, one covering aquaculture and marine use, and one on urban green infrastructure, to research and report on their respective scopes in preparation for the preliminary report. Both the agriculture PIG and the urban green infrastructure PIG are tasked with identifying and making recommendations to increase the generation and use of compost.


Other Healthy Soils Legislation in Hawai’i

A few other bills on composting as related to healthy soils and carbon sequestration passed the Hawai’i legislature and were enrolled to the Governor in May 2022, as follows:


Healthy Soils Program – Vetoed by the Governor

SB2989 was a bill establishing a Healthy Soils Program that was enrolled to the Governor May 2022. The Healthy Soils Program requires the Department of Agriculture to offer education, technical assistance, and grants to help farmers implement healthy soils practices. $500,000 was appropriated to support this bill. 

The Healthy Soils Program would:

  • Create a statewide soil health assessment
  • Provide education and technical assistance to farmers
  • Establish healthy soils standards based on the findings of the GHGSTF (created by Act 15) 
  • Provide financial incentives to encourage on-farm healthy soils practices

The Act was set to take effect on July 1, 2022 but was vetoed by the Governor. 


Allowing Composting in Agricultural Districts – Passed

HB1992 facilitates composting by making it a newly permissible activity within agricultural districts. The Hawai’i legislature recognized the soil health, agricultural, and climate benefits of allowing composting in agricultural districts. 

This bill amended Hawai’i’s definition of agriculture to now include composting, as follows:

“Composting and co-composting operations; provided that operations that process their own green waste and do not require permits from the department of health shall use the finished composting product only on the operation’s own premises to minimize the potential spread of invasive species.”

The bill was passed on June 27, 2022.


Farmer Apprentice Mentoring Program – passed

SB3197 appropriates $300,000 toward a farmer mentorship program to help new farmers learn soil health best practices from mentor farmers. Since composting is considered a best practice, this program can promote composting and assist with monitoring of newly permitted operations. 

Kristine Kubat, executive director of Recycle Hawaii, shares an optimistic perspective on this bill’s potential to support quality on-farm composting: “Eventually we want farmers to be able to take in materials and also share them with the community, but this will take ongoing monitoring to prevent the spread of invasive species and pathogens. So this bill is a way to introduce that level of care into Hawaii’s composting sector, and support its expansion beyond the limits of HB1992.”

This bill took effect July 12, 2022.


More Information:


Original post from June 14, 2022

Updated: July 10, 2023

Avatar photo
Follow Sophia Jones:
Sophia Jones

Sophia Jones is the Policy Lead with ILSR’s Composting for Community initiative, where she researches, analyzes and supports the building of US policy that advances local composting. Her background in sustainable development and agriculture reflects her interest in solutions-based, community-led development initiatives.