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Electronics recycling event starts tomorrow in Unalaska

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  • If you have electronics to recycle you can stop by the Qawalangin Tribe office at 1253 E Broadway this Friday and Saturday, 10 a.m. - 4 p.m.
  • This will be an outdoor event and everyone is required to wear a mask.
  • Please plan to have your materials in the back of your vehicle, and event staff can take them out for you. You will not have to get out of your vehicle.
  • The Qawalangin Tribe office is closed and no restroom facilities will be available.
  • If you need assistance or more information, contact Reilly at 907-444-2945.

Backhaul Alaska, the Qawalangin Tribe, and Matson are teaming up on an electronics recycling event for Unalaska. KUCB’s Vic Fisher sat down with Reilly Kosinski of Zender Environmental to find out more about the event.
KUCB: Good morning, Reilly, welcome to AM Unalaska. Why don’t you go ahead and tell us about Zender Environmental and your role in the event?

Reilly Kosinski: Zender Environmental administers the Backhaul Alaska program and the program aims to help rural communities backhaul and properly manage potentially harmful waste. For Unalaska we're targeting the electronic waste. We see Unalaska as a larger population base, you know, relative to the surrounding communities and a potential hub, and we wanted to try out a public collection event. So that will be going on this Friday and Saturday, September third and fourth. Really, it's to gauge public response and how much material we get and we're hoping for a good response so we can put our heads together and see if this is something we can provide annually for folks. And we’ve got some good partners: besides Qawalangin Tribe, Matson's Caring for Alaska program is helping us out with donations. It will be a free event. Matson will be donating the shipping, and we'll cover the recycling fees, whatever they may be, you know, on the back side of things.

KUCB: Where will you be accepting the electronics?

Kosinski: We will be at the Qawalangin Tribal Office, the warehouse there, and we will be set up from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. on Friday and Saturday.

KUCB: Well, Reilly, you will be accepting all kinds of electronics waste. What are some of the things you won't be able to accept?

Kosinski: Sure, yeah. We tell folks, “If it plugs in, it can likely be recycled.” But there are some exceptions. We don't want any sort of large appliances like fridges or freezers or stoves, washers, dryers, things like that. Also smoke alarms, just because a lot of them have that little radioactive element in there. It's just something we can't accept. Also household batteries, we can't have folks bring in bags or buckets of batteries. It's just not something we're set up to manage.

KUCB: What about the uninterruptible power supplies or UPS units, those big blocks? Can we bring those?

Kosinski: Yeah, those are fine. People can bring those by. You don't have to remove the batteries We can manage those small lead acid batteries.

KUCB: Okay, very good. Let's reiterate the who, what, where and when?

Kosinski: Sure, yeah. I’m with Zender Environmental and I’m one of the coordinators for the Backhaul Alaska program. And, again, we'll be doing this public collection event at the Qawalangin Tribe on Friday, September 3 and Saturday, September 4, from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Our partners are the Qawalangin Tribe and Matson’s Caring for Alaska program. I forgot to mention that the Coast Guard is going to be sending out some volunteers to help offload vehicles to so we're really happy they'll be able to help out with that. It's a free event and it's open to the general public and also businesses in Unalaska. One thing we do ask is that if you have a really large volume of material, to give us a call or email ahead of time so we can schedule a specific drop off time.

KUCB: Excellent. Now tell us about what happens to the end-of-life electronics waste? I mean, it doesn't get thrown into the Pacific Ocean, it actually gets recycled.

Kosinski: We did some vetting on our side and the material will go down to Tacoma. Our recycling partner in Washington is Metro Metals. They're one of the largest e-waste recyclers in the Pacific Northwest. And they have a location in Tacoma but the material is actually transported down to Vancouver, Washington to their processing facility which is very large. There are standards in place for us to make sure that they have environmental and health and safety plans in place, and make sure that they're managing the material responsibly. Metro Metals is following industry best practices and we feel confident with who we chose to process the material that we collect.

All this e-waste, it looks complicated. When you open it up, it sure looks complicated, but it really breaks down into plastics and metals, in some cases, glass, and then circuitry, and they I don't know all the science behind it, but they've been getting pretty good at extracting out, you know, all the various different metals harmful or precious or otherwise, from the circuitry. And yeah, just continues the loop.