FAIRBANKS — People with backlogged piles of electronics may want to recycle them this weekend.
Today and Saturday are the last two days in the foreseeable future that electronics recycling will be available in the Interior. Electronics can be dropped off 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. at Green Star of Interior Alaska’s recycling depot, 1855 Marika Road.
Multiple factors are contributing to a coming gap in service.
Green Star’s current $102,000 contract with the Fairbanks North Star Borough expires June 30. The borough has not indicated who will be awarded a contract to handle electronics recycling at their planned central recycling facility. Also on June 30, Green Star’s warehouse lease lapses. The warehouse, adjacent to the future recycling facility and leased from the University of Alaska Fairbanks, is the base for recycling drives.
The lease isn’t up for extension because UAF needs the warehouse to store items currently held where the central facility will be. Compounding Green Star’s problems, the lease for its office space on Van Horn Road expires the end of July.
Borough Recycling Manager Sean Huntington called the pending void in electronics recycling “bad timing,” and said funds are not available to extend Green Star’s contract.
After this weekend, residents should hold on to electronics. “As soon as the (central recycling) facility is open … we will be taking electronics five days a week,” Huntington said. He hopes to have a firm opening date by mid-July.
The central facility, to be operated under contract by the Fairbanks Rescue Mission, will also accept aluminum, cardboard, newspaper, mixed paper and plastics 1 and 2 — operations the Rescue Mission offers at its headquarters, 723 27th Ave.
The rescue mission did have a previous contract extended to continue recycling operations until the central facility is open, though the terms of the extension are still being negotiated.
Huntington hopes the facility will be able to expand to recycle glass, tin and metals. “We are going to take baby steps in the beginning,” he said, noting there’s no market and no capacity to store those items.
Green Star Interim Executive Director David Weissman called the challenges facing the organization a “perfect storm,” adding he was disappointed the borough extended the Rescue Mission’s lease, but not Green Star’s. He said the lack of a warehouse for recycling drives would be a minor hindrance in the summer. “We would find someplace, even if we had to do it in a parking lot,” he said.
Weissman said Green Star’s operations cost $5,000-$7,000 per month.
Thanks to grants and donations, a lack of leases and contracts isn’t deterring Weissman or Green Star.
“We will stay busy. We just won’t be doing the traditional e-recycling for a few months,” he said.
Tasks keeping the nonprofit group busy include special event recycling at the Midnight Sun Festival, Golden Wheel’s Summer Spectacular at Ice Alaska and the Tanana Valley State Fair.
Green Star is also engaged in a village recycling program — recently receiving 600 pounds of electronics from Lake Minchumina — and will do a recycling curriculum at the Folk School’s Rhythm and Roots summer camp.
Contact staff writer Robin Wood at 459-7510.