Stacking pallets of recycled electronics is a little bit like playing a game of Tetris.
“So we have monitors and then we have printers and scanners, and then we have maybe a miscellaneous pallet," said Satchel Pondolfino, the lower inlet organizer for Cook Inletkeeper. “You stack them on top of each other in a way that seems as stable as you can make it.”
It’s how volunteers prepare electronics from all over the Kenai Peninsula Borough for delivery to Anchorage each year. There are three electronic recycling events on the Kenai Peninsula this Saturday, in Soldotna, Homer and Seward.
“We also make sure that we are providing the service to our communities across Kachemak Bay, so Seldovia, Port Graham and Nanwalek," Pondolfino said. "They collect electronics year round and then Cook Inletkeeper helps support the process of them getting palletized and sorted and hauled on a barge across Kachemak Bay."
Cook Inletkeeper is one of the event sponsors. The Soldotna event is also supported by ReGroup, a local nonprofit.
Saturday will be the peninsula’s second electronic recycling day in six months — last year’s event was pushed from May to October due to COVID-19.
“Actually, it went really well because so many people had a bit of extra time to accumulate and store their electronics," said Regional Director Kaitlin Vadla. "It was probably one of the bigger events we’ve ever hosted.”
Inletkeeper will collect electronics in Soldotna from the Central Peninsula Landfill. Once they’re stacked on pallets, they’re trucked up to Central Recycling Services in Anchorage for processing.
“It’s a pretty big operation," Vadla said. "We don't really have anything in our neck of the woods like up in Anchorage, where you can often bring your electronics to Best Buy."
Organizers say electronics recycling keeps toxins from old iPhones and computers and vacuum cleaners out of the ground.
It’s also a way to repurpose the minerals found in old electronics. The peninsula's e-cycling day started as a response to the Pebble Mine project, to demonstrate a cheaper and more sustainable way to get minerals.
“Our electronics have really valuable minerals in them that can be reused over and over again," Pondolfino said. "And as we’re sort of making the shift to renewable energy and electrification of a lot of our sectors, like transportation and heating and that kind of thing, we are going to be needing these minerals. But we already have so much of them in circulation, we don’t necessarily need to mine for new ones.”
Volunteers will take any electronic — that’s anything with a cord or anything that you charge. They don’t accept audio and video tapes, CDs or DVDs, exit signs, PCBs, smoke detectors or fire extinguishers.
Inletkeeper suggests a $15 donation for items with screens, like TVs and monitors, since disposing them is relatively expensive.
Soldotna's e-cycling event is 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. at Central Peninsula Landfill. Homer's is 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. at Homer Spenard Builders Supply and Seward's is 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. at Seward Transfer Facility. All are Saturday. For more, visit inletkeeper.org.