Cleaning up the landscape with the Backhaul Project

Published: Oct. 5, 2023 at 9:28 AM AKDT
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FAIRBANKS, Alaska (KTVF) - Electronic waste can often pose an issue in rural areas that simply don’t have the resources to dispose of it properly. For the past 6 years, Project Backhaul has offered a solution.

As part of Project Backhaul, nearly 235,000 pounds of electronic waste were removed from the Yukon-Kuskokwim region during 2023. This is a 100,000 pound increase from last year’s electronic waste collection.

The 2023 project visited more than nine towns and villages in the Yukon-Kuskokwim region, as well as several fish camps.

The materials collected, including televisions, batteries, and other electronics, contain toxic substances like lead, mercury, cadmium, and nickel that pose a threat to the local ecosystem, especially if rain washes them into streams and bodies of water.

Electronics can also contain valuable non-renewable resources such as gold, silver, copper, platinum, aluminum, and cobalt. The majority of this is found printed onto the circuit boards and can easily be repurposed. According to the Global E-Waste Monitor, around $57 billion worth of gold, silver, copper, platinum, and other recoverable metals were dumped in 2019.

Upon collection, the materials were packaged and barged to Anchorage for proper disposal or recycling. Some materials were then shipped to Seattle for further recycling.

The Donlin Gold Project and Delta Backhaul Company, along with tribal entities and local community organizations, partnered to sponsor the event.