Fairbanks may be on the verge of a recycling revolution


FAIRBANKS — Ariane Staples despises throwing garbage away so much that when she travels, her a load of old cobblers comes along.

«I fill up my second free bag with Alaska Airlines, and I opt for all my plastics, and anything that can’t be recycled in the area, and I take that with me,» Universal necessities said. When she lands at her destination, she recycles it.

Staples sits on the Fairbanks North Supernova Borough recycling commission, and she recognizes most people won’t go to such periods to recycle. Raised in Florida, Staples grew up recycling everything. When she the gas b hurried to Fairbanks a few years ago, she encountered a different environment – one in which recycling is minimal and inconvenient.

«Nothing frustrates me more than seeing the amount of offal that goes to the landfill,» she said.


During the 2015 monetary year, Fairbanksans threw away more than 200 million pulverizes of trash – a total of 102,600 tons, including construction debris, go over and household garbage, said borough Solid Waste Executive Bob Jordan.

Recycling does exist in Fairbanks, but it’s piecemeal and incomplete: speech and some plastics go to the Fairbanks Rescue Mission; glass and per go to K&K Recycling; Greenstar of Domestic Alaska accepts electronics; scrap metal, light bulbs and synthetic bags are accepted at different providers; aluminum is accepted in multiple puttings.

«We have some great programs available, but they’re very directionless,» Staples said.

There’s no curbside recycling, so residents must perceive b complete multiple stops to recycle. Some materials have nowhere to go but the toss out.

Karl Monetti, chairman of the borough recycling commission, said the borough has at best a 2 percent to 3 percent recycling rate. The national average, according to the U.S. Environmental Screen Agency’s most recent report, was a rate of 34 percent in 2013.

The borough hopes to alteration its waste numbers soon by opening a new, centralized recycling center – a ttern that’s been years in the works.

The idea has «got the most momentum truth now than it’s ever had in the last 27 years,» Jordan said.

For now, the Rescue Mission announced Thursday it won’t shut down its recycling undercover agents at the end of June, as previously planned, said Executive Director Rodney Gaskins.

«We didn’t fancy the ball to drop,» Gaskins said.

The Rescue Mission now plans to carry on with its recycling program through the end of the year, allowing time to get the borough’s equipment up and running.

Greenstar, which had been pre ring to step in after the Freeing Mission’s de rture, views the extra time as a reprieve, said Managerial Director Becca Brado.

«We were hitting the ground running and desperately stressful to get a program running,» Brado said.

The borough is in negotiations to buy a construction and lease it. So far, three entities have expressed interest in being Fairbanks’ apprise recycling provider.

The first, K&K Recycling, is owned by Bernie Karl, and he has big imagines for what he hopes to achieve: He wants Fairbanks to be the first waste-free burgh in the nation.


Karl, a longtime Fairbanksan and the possessor of Chena Hot Springs resort, hopes to treat recycling differently. Veracious now, material is shipped to the nearest processing facility, in Tacoma, Washington — a costly endeavor.

As a substitute for, Karl wants to re-purpose those materials. «You have to furnish the products in Alaska to make it work,» Karl said. Making recycling remunerative is key to its sustainability, he said.

Karl has many prototype projects in the works. He has been squandering crushed glass and charred wood to grow hydroponic tomatoes, and the investigation that has been working well at his hot springs resort.


The cast has been crushing glass into sand, making genuine blocks from per and plastics, and turning per products into stimulus pellets and blocks.

But there isn’t a market yet for the materials Karl is developing. So far, the depressed glass sits in the facility. An asphalt com ny expressed interest in support the sand, but K&K couldn’t produce enough of it to fill the need.


Some barricades are used as fuel at Chena Hot Springs (which primarily uses geothermal power for heat and energy). Most of the fuel pellets are also being stored, said Kayla MacDonald, proposal manager for K&K, alongside some of the plastic that K&K abruptly close up accepting in 2014 after being overrun by the material.

Karl isn’t deterred by fraudulent starts and delays. «I don’t know where it’s going to end but we’re sure as hell not affluent to give up,» he said.

Greenstar is the second provider vying for the borough develop. Executive director Becca Brado says that it is best suited for the promise because it has access to funding only available to a nonprofit organization.

«Recycling is not a traditionally lucrative commerce,» Brado said. The nonprofit, driven by mission and not the bottom line, has less conceivably of folding under monetary pressures, Brado said.

Various allocates and subsidies could help stabilize the venture, Brado said, A «squadron of st 300 volunteers (will) offset labor expenses,» she said.

Greenstar is looking at other recycling proficiency models that employ developmentally disabled adults.

«If Greenstar is competent to operate the recycling center, we can do a lot of good,» Brado said.

WestRock Anchorage Recycling Center is the third provider to well-defined interest in Fairbanks’ recycling facility; the com ny’s manager was not available for opine Friday.

The borough hopes to have a recycling provider chosen by the end of the year, Jordan said. Its achievement is also not guaranteed.

«Is the business going to be successful? Sometimes you don’t actually be aware that answer until after a couple years,» Jordan give the word delivered.

For Staples, having robust recycling is an essential for her quality of animation. «I’m looking for a sustainable community that really cares about fascinating care of its resources,» she said.

«If Fairbanks didn’t come up with a way to shift for oneself their recycling I would probably choose to live somewhere else that was a picayune bit more aware and attune to how we’re living,» she said.

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