Friday is America Recycles Day. If you do not already recycle, this would be an auspicious day to start your program.
Recycling saves resources, energy and pollution. Aluminum for example, an element, comes from bauxite. Although bauxite is plentiful, aluminum exists in it as particles. The bauxite must be extracted in tremendous volume (environment, energy, pollution), it has to be crushed to fine particles (energy, pollution), and then the aluminum has to be extracted using high quantities of electricity (more energy & pollution). All of these steps are skipped when we recycle. The same goes for tin, paper & cardboard (trees/forests), plastics (oil).
Then there is also the issue of our landfill. Twenty years ago people knew that we would have this landfill problem about now. Now we have to build a new lined cell at the landfill that so far has a cost of 30 million dollars. The elegant solution is already here — recycling.
Recycling creates jobs all over America, but in Kodiak we go one step further. Threshold’s mission is to employ and train people with disabilities. Because we are doing the town’s recycling there are many jobs that can be used to employ people with a variety of levels of disability. The mission of recycling and the mission of helping people with disabilities dovetail exquisitely. In Kodiak, just by recycling you are supporting people with disabilities.
In 2008, Bell & Associates did a comprehensive waste stream analysis for the Kodiak Island Borough. It can be found on the borough website. Accordingly, 39 percent of our waste stream could be diverted through Threshold when in fact only about 7 percent of it is currently diverted.
Recycling is subject to economies of scale. The more you recycle the less it costs. Threshold’s contract with the Kodiak Island Borough reflects that. Every can, plastic bottle, cardboard box and piece of paper you recycle brings the cost down. That means that when you throw recyclable material in the landfill you are driving the costs up. It is that simple. When you don’t recycle you are also driving up disposal costs.
If we doubled our recycling in Kodiak (to only 14 percent) the cost per ton for recycling would be well below the cost per ton for disposal. If we got anywhere near that 39 percent, Threshold could (and would) be open longer hours. If you are not already recycling, start with paper. Keep a box handy and put all your clean waste paper in it. Make it a point not to throw any in the garbage. It will take less than a minute to drive to Threshold from Rezanof and less than a minute to dump it. Threshold is open from 11 a.m. to 6:30 p.m. Tuesday through Saturday. It only gets better the more we recycle.
Ken Reinke is manager of Threshold Recycling in Kodiak.