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Dig out that broken Ipod! Cook Inletkeeper's Electronics Recycling event is this weekend

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The Electronics Recycling event will be in Homer on April 30, from 10 AM until 2 PM at Spenard Builders Supply. It's organized by Cook Inletkeeper and is an opportunity to safely discard obsolete, old, or broken electronics.

“It's one of my favorite events,” said Lower Kenai Peninsula organizer Satchel Pondolfino. “It's super physical. We basically take electronics from people's cars… there's big and small and all sizes and we're sorting them according to type and size. It's kind of like 3D in-person Tetris”

About 20 people volunteer each year to help with the event. This is the first stage in the e-waste supply chain. After the electronics are sorted and stacked on pallets, then they are wrapped in plastic, loaded onto trucks and transported north with the help of more volunteers.

“[There are] many different moving pieces to get the electronics from the Peninsula up to Anchorage including TOTE Container Company, Weaver Brothers who are the container mover company, Kar-A-Van, who moves things in Homer. All of those businesses donate their services,” Pondolfino said.

After arriving in Anchorage electronics are resorted by Central Recycling Service (CRS). CRS handles e-waste throughout Alaska, serving towns along the rail belt as well as rural communities off the road system. From Anchorage, electronics are then put into shipping containers and barged to a business in Vancouver, Washington, called Metro Metals. Both CRS and Metro Metals have an R2 certification, which is a universal designation that ensures that their methods are environmentally responsible and safe for workers.

“These organizations are responsible for tracking all the material that they received to its end of life.” Pondolfino explained. “And end of life means that it has been stripped down to its original capacity and sent to a refinery which can refurbish and reuse the different components.”

All of the e-waste must be recycled or discarded properly. Some of the materials in electronics like mercury and cadmium are toxic, while others are valuable. They can be given a second life.

“Precious metals that come out of the circuit boards, the copper, the gold, the silver, there's a lot of different metals that go into electronics.” Pondolfino named off materials. “And there's also glass, there's also plastics, and these are the components of the electronics that will be recycled as well.”

Poldofino says electronic recycling is important for two key reasons.

“The first is that when electronics end up unnecessarily in our landfills, there's toxins that can get leached in to contaminate our watershed.”

Secondly, “These are valuable precious minerals that take a lot of resources to mine, '' she said. “Mining causes a lot of impact on the environment so it's really our goal to keep as many of these usable mineral materials in circulation as possible to minimize the need for more mining.”

Certain items such as light bulbs, fluorescents, and batteries will not be accepted. Additionally, Cook Inletkeeper is asking for a 15 dollar donation for each large screen or monitor donated. This will help cover the extra costs of recycling these items.

This year's electronic recycling event will be held in Homer at Spenard Builders Supply, tomorrow from 10 AM until 2 PM. Cook Inlet keeper is also hosting e-recycling in Soldotna tomorrow from 10- 3 PM at the Central Peninsula Landfill. There will be similar events throughout May across the Peninsula. Seward’s recycling event will be held May 7 at the Seward Transfer Facility from 9 am - 3 pm. For communities across Kachemak Bay, such as Nanwalek, Port Graham and Seldovia an event is planned for May 12 or 13. Ninilchik will have a drop off location at the Ninilchik health and wellness club, and be accepting donations from April 30 until May 7.