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Electronics recycling event returns to Unalaska

For the second year, Backhaul Alaska is hosting a collection event in partnership with the Qawalangin Tribe and Matson.

In Unalaska, like much of rural Alaska, the financial and logistical barriers to removing hazardous waste can present health, safety, and environmental concerns.

“There’s a lot of good support on getting stuff into the communities, but once it’s been used it’s really tough to get it back out,” said Reilly Kosinski, Statewide Coordinator for Backhaul Alaska.

According to Backhaul Alaska, landfills in rural Alaska weren’t designed to hold toxic chemicals from things like batteries and computers. When waste accumulates, these chemicals can get into the air and water, which is bad for the environment and the health of residents. Backhaul Alaska helps remove harmful waste from communities, shipping it out of state to recycling facilities where it can be safely processed.

During last year’s collection event in Unalaska, 10,000 pounds of computers, TVs, monitors, printers, VCR and DVD players, and other hazardous materials were removed.

When the pilot program launched in 2018, Backhaul Alaska was working with 15 communities. This year, that number has increased to around 40, and the program aims to eventually expand to all of rural Alaska with help from Matson’s Caring for Alaska program.

This year Backhaul Alaska is receiving a donation of 10 Matson container shipments, which will help them serve more communities on the road system, in addition to Unalaska and Kodiak. The in-kind shipments will allow the organization to focus their financial resources on other aspects of their programs and events.

The Unalaska collection event is scheduled for August 12 and 13 at the Qawalangin Tribal Office.