Borough offers pilot project to recycle e-waste Saturday

If you live in the Homer-area, pull out any old electronics you forgot to recycle back in April. The Kenai Peninsula Borough Solid Waste Department is teaming up with Total Reclaim, with support from Cook Inletkeeper, to collect electronics this Saturday, July 11, at the Homer Transfer Station from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. 

This is a pilot effort, held in conjunction with the station’s quarterly hazardous waste day.

Every April for the past 10 years, people in and around Homer have come to the back parking lot of Spenard Builders Supply to recycle their electronics from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m., rain or shine. 

In that decade, we’ve worked together to keep more than 150,000 pounds of electronics out of our landfill. We wondered if our numbers would start to dwindle after years of collection events — would the cleaned-up backlog of old televisions and DOS-based computers make our recycling event obsolete?

Unfortunately that has been far from the case. With the fast pace of new and quickly obsolete electronics — from personal phones and tablets, computers and televisions, to marine electronics and karaoke machines — we have consistently collected approximately 20,000 pounds of electronic waste every year on that one day in April. 

For the past several years we have been working with the Solid Waste Department at the Kenai Peninsula Borough, encouraging them to consider providing e-waste recycling opportunities for borough residents throughout the year. E-waste is a huge part of our collective waste stream, and when discarded it not only takes up a large amount of space in the landfill but e-waste also can leak toxic chemicals like lead, mercury and cadmium. Major solid waste expenses include the physical space to store our trash, as well as treatment for the runoff coming from the landfill in Soldotna. 

By keeping our recyclable trash out of there in the first place, we can help control costs and pollution at the same time. Recycling e-waste has the added benefit of utilizing the waste’s component precious metals, reducing our need to constantly seek new sources. 

We’re excited that this Saturday, July 11, the KPB Solid Waste Department is doing a trial run of quarterly e-cycling in conjunction with their already established quarterly hazardous waste collection day. Staff from Total Reclaim are coming down from Anchorage to help out, and we’re hopeful that folks will show up with carloads of e-waste to recycle. 

So fear not! If you were out of town, or just forgot, for our April e-recycling day you don’t have to keep that pile of electronics around until 2016. Head up to the Homer Transfer Facility on Saturday between 10 a.m. and 2 p.m. Everything is free for individuals and businesses alike, with the exception of devices with screens. If you have something with a screen, it’s $15 (regardless of size). 

This is a great deal and we’re hoping folks will take advantage of this fabulous pilot opportunity being offered by the borough. Check out http://inletkeeper.org/clean-water/electronics-recycling for more on e-cycling.

Rachel Lord is the clean water program director for Cook Inletkeeper, a community-based organization working since 1995 to protect the Cook Inlet watershed and the life it sustains. 


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