Debunking some recycling myths heard in Homer


o we or don’t we recycle in Homer? Have you ever driven up to the Homer Transfer Facility baler building and seen the recyclables pushed onto the conveyor belt like garbage in the old days? And you thought, “What the heck? I take my time to sort out recyclables from my trash and the borough is just going to throw it away?” 

Do you walk away really mad but never ask staff what is really going on?

Here it is, folks: the truth on the fate of recyclables in Homer. Most recyclables (paper, newspaper, cardboard, plastics and aluminum) are now managed in the old baler building that used to house trash before it was baled and hauled out back for burial in the landfill.  Trash is no longer baled but collected in large trailers in the new transfer facility building and hauled to Soldotna for burial.

But what about tin?   You witness the tin can collection container/dumpster taken out back by the transfer facility contractor and dumped on the ground by the scrap metal pile. Why is this so? The tin is managed in the same manner as scrap metal – it is consolidated with other metal materials and hauled offsite to recycle markets by a scrap recycler working for the transfer facility contractor, D&L Construction.

One last thing. You say “I carefully segregate my glass and take it to the transfer facility and put it in the glass recycling container. Then I see it hauled to the landfill area and dumped. What’s with that?” The glass is NOT shipped off-site for recycling – unfortunately there is no market for this type of management. BUT the next best thing is reuse and that is what happens to the glass. It is crushed and used as a resource for a variety of on-site functions – roadbed base construction rather than buying imported gravel and cover material for the inert waste in lieu of using onsite dirt that is not in abundance.  A win-win for us all!

So next time you get stressed about the borough taking your sorted recyclables and burying them, no worries. We are recycling and reusing and the borough taxpayer benefits all the way around. So next time you have a question about recycling, just ask us.

Jack Maryott has been the Kenai Peninsula Borough’s Solid Waste Director since 2008. The borough’s Solid Waste Department can be reached at 262-9667.