The organizers of a new initiative that retrieves e-waste from across rural Alaska report they collected and recycled over 145,000 pounds of lead-acid batteries from 45 communities last year. Backhaul Alaska is an idea from Sen. Lisa Murkowski, and now receives federal grant money from the Bureau of Indian Affairs, Department of Transportation, and Environmental Protection Agency to address the challenge of getting hazardous waste out of remote Alaska communities.
Reilly Kosinski works for Zender Environmental, a nonprofit that manages the backhaul program. He said waste management is uniquely challenging in much of the state. The program trains local residents to safely consolidate hazardous batteries and other e-waste, and then coordinates discounted backhaul shipments on cargo ships or planes. Kosinski said the waste is then delivered to certified recycling facilities in the Lower 48.
John Kyte, Communications Director for the Responsible Battery Coalition, a national organization supporting Backhaul Alaska, said lead acid batteries are 99% recyclable and the lead can be reused indefinitely. For Alaskans in bigger cities looking to unload e-waste, Kosinski recommended services from Total Reclaim or Central Recycling Services in Anchorage or Green Star of Interior Alaska in Fairbanks. As for spent lead-acid batteries, he said most auto shops that sell car batteries will gladly take your old ones.
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