Electronics Recycling is a Path to a Just Renewable Energy Future
In service to the Cook Inlet | Tikahtnu watershed and the living communities it supports, Inletkeeper is unwavering in our commitment to serving as both hardrock mining watchdogs and renewable […]
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In service to the Cook Inlet | Tikahtnu watershed and the living communities it supports, Inletkeeper is unwavering in our commitment to serving as both hardrock mining watchdogs and renewable energy advocates. Despite the prevailing rhetoric driven by the mining industry that pits these two objectives against each other, we firmly believe that given equitable investment, humanity’s ingenuity and creativity will propel better solutions to advance renewable energy rather than a fast-tracked, deregulated, and subsidized boom in cobalt, copper, lithium and nickel mining. 

Inletkeeper is proud to be driving better solutions on the Kenai Peninsula. Since 2006, our Electronic Recycling program has diverted over 600,000 pounds of electronics from Peninsula landfills, demonstrating that Alaskans share a community-level ethos and commitment to participate in systems that generate mineral resources from a recycle and recovery economy. Each spring, as our staff, partners, and volunteers round up, sort and send off electronics to recycling facilities in Anchorage and Washington state, our hands participate in that economy. It’s locally driven efforts like these that bolster the solutions towards a just renewable energy future. 

Electronics recycling and landfill mining are common-sense solutions that don’t sacrifice vulnerable communities, lands, and waters. While industry strives to exploit the climate crisis and the demand for renewables to obtain more subsidies and regulatory loopholes for mining, it’s important to remember that our law regulating mining in the United States is 150 years old. As such, the mining industry has the distinction of being one of the largest sources of water pollution in the U.S. and many multinational mining companies have a long legacy of human rights violations. Good mining practices ONLY occur when regulations prioritize the health of nearby lands, water, and people.  

The reality is that climate change only exacerbates the risks the mining industry poses. As droughts and heat waves increase, our water becomes even more precious. As such, the public and governing bodies need more oversight, not less, to ensure that clean water is safeguarded. 

Instead of subsidizing the mining industry, we should invest in better technologies that advance the recycling and recovery economy to meet our need for minerals. If the resources exist to replace mountains with open pit mines stretching miles wide and deep, the resources exist to scale up recycling facilities and recover minerals in our landfills. Using minerals already in the supply chain will always be the most affordable and least harmful way to electrify transportation and power renewable grids.

Bad subsidies and loopholes lead to bad outcomes AND short-change creative solutions. Innovators need an even playing field to develop technologies that could supply minerals without ripping mountains or rivers apart and poisoning downstream communities. These technologies and systems are waiting in the wings. Already there is a robust market for recycled copper and other recycled mineral markets are growing with demand, innovators have produced cobalt-free batteries, and developers are even working to extract minerals from water using magnetic technology. 

Inletkeeper is committed to leaning into the innovation of Cook Inlet communities to find ways to expand electronic recycling opportunities on the Peninsula. This year, we aim to identify pathways where we can partner with the Kenai Peninsula Borough solid waste department to offer more than a once-yearly opportunity for community members to drop off electronic waste. This work is powered by you, our members, and supporters. By supporting us, you’re actively contributing to tangible solutions that will create a just renewable energy future.

If you share our vision, please consider making a donation today. 

Thank you for reading. We are able to do this work because of member support from concerned friends like you. Please donate today to protect Cook Inlet for our future generations.