Collection drive focusing on e-waste this weekend

The environmental office of Wrangell Cooperative Association will be holding a collection drive for residents’ unwanted electronics this weekend.

The drive involves the collection, transport and reclamation of an assortment of technological contraptions. It will be funded through an Indian Environmental General Assistance Program grant, a program run through the Environmental Protection Agency cooperatively with the Tribe.

“We will be collecting anything with a cord or a brain,” explained Kim Wickman, Wrangell IGAP technician. “They can be fax machines, scanners, power cords, even your old microscopes.”

This effort will help alleviate problems with proper disposal, largely a reflection of regional challenges.

According to the Alaska Department of Environmental Conservation’s Solid Waste Program, the state is the nation’s largest, with 710,231 living on 366,000,000 acres of land. Over 72 percent of the state’s residents live near Fairbanks, Anchorage or Juneau. The rest live scattered in rural communities, many of which are not connected by road.

Many reachable only by air or sea, rural communities tend to maintain their own municipal landfills due to transportation challenges. Other challenges such as limited space and chemicals containment are present. Wickman explained that with e-waste, components containing toxic elements such as mercury, cadmium and lead can be a problem.

“They tend to leach out, and end up in water sources,” she said.

Sent down to Washington for processing, these can be removed and properly disposed of, while conductive elements such as silver and gold can be extracted and reused along with other salvageable components.

One thing the drive will not be trying to collect this weekend will be white goods, things like refrigerators, microwaves, and other similar household objects. “A lot of those do have a brain these days, they do have a cord, but that’s not what we’re really focusing on this weekend,” Wickman said.

As e-waste can tend to be bulky, those unable to transport them on their own can call the WCA office during business hours on Friday at 874-4304. A truck will come round and move any items needed. Otherwise, goods can be brought to the WCA Carving Facility during the day on Saturday.

 

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