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December 19, 2008
HUgger88300: When I lived on the east coast I supplemented my income by selling recycleables. Since
arriving in Anchorage I've noticed a disturbing trend at our own recycling center. I've been lied to about the
world price of recycled cans even when I had documented proof otherwise. I once asked a car salvage
faciclity why they don't do recycleables and was told they weren't permitted by the city. There are many
businesses in the lower 48 who pay for recycleables and make a profit doing it. It's time we pressure the
sate government to allow these businesses to operate here.
Sunnieyes2: I am new to Anchorage (coming from the lower 48) and was a little disappointed in the
recycling options that are available here, especially for multi-family housing. However, I have been doing
my part and taking my recyclables to the drop off center in Anchorage. I am really disappointed to read
about what is going on with the "recycled" glass and how it is ruining the compost and causing dangerous
situations for wildlife and people. I have been reading articles lately about increased human-wildlife
conflict/interactions in Anchorage and calls from some to hire a "bear cop" to control bears. This article
reinforces what I had already thought is most likely the main problem- which seems to be people and
businesses displaying wanton carelessness in dealing with their trash (in this case recyclables mixed with
trash), which is luring bears and creating these dangerous situations. If we don't address the root causes
of why bears are attracted to the city then having a!
bear cop will not solve the problem. There should be strict enforcement and hefty fines given to those who
act irresponsibly in this way. But, I digress- back to glass recycling. It seems that there are a few problems
here. First, the city should work with this business to find a vacant warehouse to store the recycled glass
instead of keeping it out in the open. Second, it seems that there is not a sufficient market for recycled
glass in Alaska and it is not profitable enough to ship it to other parts of the world where there may be a
market for it. So, how can we develop new markets for recycled glass in Alaska?
Compost Replies: You ask a very good question about how to develop markets for recycled
glass. Since ALPAR and the Muni have been "working" on this issue for years, perhaps they could
enlighten us. Now, how could be inspire them to join our discussion? ;) Remember, Environmental
Recycling, Inc. developed a sustainable glass market years ago, and that is still in place. We
reiterate this not to crow, but to clarify the term sustainable. Our main beef is the chronic use of
public funds (originally intended to foster sustainable recycling efforts) that are now used to
subsidize the non-recycling of glass. It seems that the only "sustainable" part is the public's money.
Maybe I missed it but after skimming over the information on this site I am still in the dark. I've always
heard that it is not economically feasible to send glass to Seattle. Why? What would have to happen to
make glass recyling be an economically viable endeavor in Alaska?
Or can it ever be? What's the point of collecting it and sending it to the dump?
Compost Replies: Glass never has been and likely never will be economically viable to back ship
Outside. It is a heavy material made of sand and is of little value. Sustainable recycling requires it to
be re-manufactured and used right here in Alaska. Environmental Recycling, Inc. experimented
during the mid-1990's and came up with several new products which could sustain themselves
without outside funds. For example, glass processed into sand blasting media makes economical
sense up to 700 tons, or 1,400,000 pounds, a year. Shipyards like it because it does not result in
toxic or hazardous discharges as do some of the imported mined media. It does have limited
scouring power and thus will not ever be a total replacement. It remains the only market, but it is a
steady in and steady out flow of glass. Check back to the site soon for Installment II of the Glass
Recycling story, where, among other things, we provide a history of the glass plant through its
various ownerships and relationships with so called "recyclers" in Anchorage. We will also expand
on several of the other uses for recycled glass that are economically sustainable with a steady
supply of clean glass.
Hello, You mention on your website that in "1999 Environmental Recycling Inc. develops a sustainable
glass recycling program in response to community desires." Also you stated that in, "early 2000's-
Environmental Recycling transfers glass plant ownership to Polar Supply." First, if Environmental Recycle
Inc. had a good plan that it thought was able to respond to the communities desires for glass recycling,
why did it transfer it's ownership of the glass plant to Polar Supply? Why didn't it pursue it's program on its
own? Did Polar Supply pay Environmental Recycling Inc. to use the glass plant or did they buy the glass
plant from Environmental Recycling Inc.? Also, did Environmental Recycling Inc. own or lease the glass
plant? Is there an available digital copy of the program developed by Environmental Recycling Inc. from
1999? I know there are a lot of questions here but it would be very helpful to know, thank you,
Compost Replies: Thank you for your questions. They are all good and extremely timely. We are
at this moment preparing to publish Installment II of the Glass Recycling story, and your questions
will be answered in that. In fact, you raise some points that we hadn't thought to include, but we
absolutely will. We will post Installment II today, and will post your questions on our Comments page
today as well. Again, thank you for your response, and please continue to visit the site and
encourage all of your contacts to do so. You are an important part of the recycling community.
Wbennett:The recycling center takes many other recyclable items at their Dowling location. What
happens to the other items they pick up like plastic, paper, tin cans, and aluminum? How much of these
products end up in the landfill? Are they shipped out or are they used within Alaska?
Compost Replies: Except for a stream of newspaper that is used locally by Thermo-Kool for
manufacture into insulation, all of the other materials that you and I drop off at the Recycling
Center or the Eagle River landfill recycling bins are bundled together are shipped outside to
Tacoma where they are sorted and recycled. Since the economic downturn, film plastic is no longer
accepted because it is no longer valuable enough to process and we cannot put it in our SWS
recycle bins because it is unruly and tends to break free and gum up equipment (at least that is
one reason they tell us). And as you have learned, glass is not accepted anywhere anymore, at
least for the time being. One of our points in setting up the website discussion is to get the
community involved in developing local re-manufacure/use of these materials rather than shipping
them outside. Thank you for commenting, and please continue to visit the site and participate.
December 21, 2008
December 21, 2008
December 23, 2008
January 8, 2009
jrockclimb: I try to teach my children, whom I homeschool, about the 3 R's, and have recycled with them
over the last few years. I am sick to my stomach about what I read about. ...and yet I know that our unique
isolated location also presents the possibility of sustainable business opportunities. Crisis is always
opportunity... It seems as if dynamic solutions to recycling really needs to be part of the 3 R's picture to
be effective. For example, why is Carrs/Fred Meyer still giving out plastic bags for free? How can we give
'credits' to those that produce less trash? I'd like to become involved in a creative vision for Anchorage,
and Alaska. I WANT to find solutions, on a larger scale for our big waste (glass, plastic bags, paper)- but
also our smaller, more difficult waste: mattresses, electronics (watch for those tv's mid-feb), Christmas
decorations, etc..... Are the recycling meetings held at the BP Energy Center an effective way to do so-
or what other meetings and networking is there? Thanks.
Compost Replies: When we have a minute to breath and reflect on all we've learned in the past
months, this information makes us sick as well. It also makes us angry and frustrated. The
frustration comes from the lack of recognition and response on the part of the popular recycling
"partners" in our community when we've raised issues with them. They seem to like the status quo.
The anger comes from the realization that this is public money, yours and mine, that is being spent
and we don't seem to be making any real recycling progress.
You do raise some very good questions. You might visit ALPAR's website, and click on the plastic
bag icon on the left of the homepage. This will lead you to their idea of eliminating plastic bag litter
in our state. They DO NOT want regulations or laws, they want a voluntary compliance on the part
of industry. This is exactly the same approach as against the bottle bill in the 1980's which is how
and why ALPAR was formed. Given the information we've provided to date about glass recycling,
you can now ask yourself if this approach has been successful.
To be clear, we are not proposing any laws or regulations ourselves unless that is what the
community wants. What we would like to see is an uprising from the community: an uprising of
citizens who also ask questions, and push for real answers, not just "we're working on that", or "we
recognize that is an issue". Such blather is bureaucratic B.S. We encourage everyone reading this
to attend the pubic Recycling Meeting on January 27th, noon to 2pm, at the BP Energy Center.
Raise your hand and ask a question. These people are the ones who are being paid to know and
are to be accountable to us for how the public funds are being spent.