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My Turn: Juneau residents would benefit from comingled curbside recycling

Posted: December 19, 2011 - 1:03am

Following a Dec. 1 Empire article discussing our company’s application to the Regulatory Commission of Alaska (RCA), we wish to clarify some of the reported details and outline Alaska Pacific Environmental Services’ plans to expand recycling in Juneau.

For the past year, our company (known locally as Arrow Refuse) has devoted a great deal of time and thought to the question of how Juneau can divert more waste from a landfill that has become a sizeable challenge for the community. We’ve pressed our management team and employees to think creatively about solutions that would represent a win for residents, businesses, and the City and Borough of Juneau (CBJ).

We concluded we could make recycling easier and more accessible by offering curbside, comingled recycling service to Juneau residents. We know, based on the experience of many other cities and towns, that the convenience of residential curbside, comingled recycling increases the volume of recycling dramatically, resulting in a substantial reduction in the amount of solid waste that’s sent to the landfill.

In order to offer this service to residents at the lowest possible cost, our fleet of trucks would need to be converted to automated hauling trucks, whereby a mechanical arm lifts and empties specially designed carts used for trash and recycling. This was the substance of our application to the RCA. The application was, in fact, denied, though the RCA’s actions have nothing to do with our plan to offer curbside recycling (which is not regulated by the RCA). From our standpoint, this is part of the ongoing dialogue that is the regulatory process. We understand the RCA’s point of view, which regards automated hauling and the automated carts as a “new” service. We plan to resubmit our application soon to address the perceived contradictions accordingly.

The article also made reference to our proposal to build a transfer station in Juneau. In September, our company did propose, in a statement issued to the media, a plan that would entail building a transfer station and barging waste out of Juneau. This was not part of our RCA application. We are currently working with Waste Management (operator of the landfill) and the CBJ to evaluate all possible alternatives and help find a solution that’s best for Juneau residents. Our contract to dispose of waste at the landfill expires at the end of 2012, not this year, as was stated in the article.

While most people don’t typically give much thought to solid waste, we live and breathe these issues. Our top priorities are first-rate customer service; safe, efficient, cost-effective waste hauling and disposal; and environmental stewardship. Our efforts to make recycling easier and more convenient in Juneau support all of these priorities and we will thus continue to pursue the goal of expanded recycling.

• Thompson is the General Manager of Alaska Pacific Environmental Services (aka Arrow Refuse).

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