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Borough Announces Sept. 1 Opening of Centralized, 'Very Large' Recycling Facility

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The Fairbanks North Star Borough will open its long-awaited Central Recycling Facility Sept 1 in an area just north of the Johansen Expressway.Sean Huntington, the borough’s recycling manager, says the facility's location at 1855 Marika Road will be a convenient location for most Fairbanks-area residents.

“This new facility that’s centralized in the community (is) a very large facility, three times the size that the rescue mission was operating out of,” says Sean Huntington, the borough’s recycling manager.

The Fairbanks Rescue Mission operated its own recycling center for eight years in South Fairbanks, but last year announced it had intended to close the facility. Borough officials later worked out a deal to keep that facility open until the borough could get its own up and going. The borough then contracted the rescue mission to operate the new facility. The mission will close its facility when the borough’s opens.

Credit KUAC file photo
Gus Quertermous, a Fairbanks Rescue Mission employee, maneuvers a 500-pound bale of compressed cardboard in the Rescue Mission warehouse at 723 27th Ave.

“They’ve got a long history of doing it the right way, safely,” Huntington said.

The facility will accept many types of aluminum, cardboard, paper, and plastics 1 and 2. 

“We’re going to be open five days a week, to start with, recycling the same products that the rescue mission did,” he said. “And in addition, we’re also going to now be doing electronics.”

Green Star of Interior Alaska will handle the electronic recyclables for the first two months, under an extension of its existing contract. Huntington says the borough will issue a request for proposals, or RFP, within the next couple of weeks. He says officials hopes to have a permanent contractor in place before the Green Star contract extension runs out.

“Green Star has one of their ‘e-depots’ scheduled for August,” he said, “but that will be their last one.”

Credit Alaska Public Media file photo
The borough will soon issue a new request for proposals from prospective contractors to recycle glass. But previous local efforts to recycle the material have failed, because it's expensive to process, and the material that it would displace in industrial uses – sand – is abundant in this area, and cheap.

Huntington says the borough also will issue an RFP for a contractor to handle glass. But he’s not optimistic the borough will be able to attract a contractor for that recyclable. The market for it is notoriously volatile. He says it’s expensive to transport and difficult to process locally, because the material it’s intended to replace, sand, is available in abundance, at a much lower cost.

“Honestly, in the Interior of Alaska, sand is cheap. There’s a lot of silt in the area.”

Huntington says the staff at the new facility will focus effort on getting the public to understand the importance of the kinds of materials will be accepted, because that’s essential to a successful recycling operation.

“We’re hoping to educate the community, the residents here in Fairbanks, to provide sorted material when they come here to drop it off.”

He says that would educating the public on the details of the recyclables that can be accepted, such as those that pertain to plastics.

“With the bottles and jugs, a good thing to remember is no caps; they need to be clean and dry – no food contaminants,” Huntington said.

Borough officials plan to celebrate the new facility with a ribbon-cutting and grand opening on Sept. 1.

Tim has worked in the news business for over three decades, mainly as a newspaper reporter and editor in southern Arizona. Tim first came to Alaska with his family in 1967, and grew up in Delta Junction before emigrating to the Lower 48 in 1977 to get a college education and see the world.