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Eyak Tribe redirects hazardous waste

By Brandy Johnson
Cordova, Alaska (AP) 11-07

Neither sleet, nor rain, nor the dreary grayness of a chilly autumn
day in Cordova could dampen the spirit driving the Native Village of
Eyak's electronics recycling program.

Conceived as the brainchild of tribe's environmental coordinator
Erika Empey, a collection drive held Oct. 25-26 was able to recover
2,000 pounds of used electronics.

As part of a project to eliminate hazardous materials such as mercury
and lead from local landfills, the village teamed up with Total
Reclaim's satellite office in Anchorage to have the used electronics
collected and shipped to company headquarters in Seattle via barge. Total Reclaim has been in business since 1991.

"They recycle about 95 percent of the products, melt the plastic down
into pellets, and sell the pellets back to the companies that make
electronics. They reuse all the circuitry they can and the copper
also," Empey said.

While pleased with the outcome of the drive, Empey revealed that she
had hoped for a better response. During a trial run, the village
alone was able to dispose of 1,300 pounds of used electronics.

"I thought we could get a lot more. Other communities recycled about
10,000 pounds," she said. Not one to be discouraged, she noted that
the tribe has had numerous inquiries after the conclusion of the
collection.

Empey said that the goal is to set up the electronics recycling
program to run for the next two years. She said that another
collection drive has been tentatively planned for April to coincide
with Earth Day.

Empey also said that for the next drive, the tribe would like to
receive items during a 30-day span as opposed to the recent two-day
window.

Looking to the future, the soft-spoken but driven Empey hopes to
conduct a waste-stream analysis of the burn pile, a wood recycling
program and develop more community awareness for solid waste
management.

Empey has been the environmental coordinator since September 2006.
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