Company provides new Anchorage option to recycle more types of plastic

A white truck that says "Alaska Plastic Recovery Home of the Grizzly Wood" is parked in front of an oversized garage with a red door. Two big white plastic bags and two people in camping chairs are next to the truck.
Lisa Simpson and Cody Vaught sit in front of the new drop-off location for Alaska Plastics Recovery on June 29, 2024. (Courtesy Patrick Simpson)

Alaskans will have a new place to recycle more types of plastics in Anchorage starting Saturday. Alaska Plastic Recovery is opening a drop-off location in Midtown which provides a unique twist on recycling: The company uses the material to make plastic lumber, which can be used in place of wood.

“Any kind of thing you can use lumber for, you can use this for,” said Marketing and Sales Director Rachell Murphy. “It’s the same dimensions, you can cut it up.”

The new drop-off location will be open every Saturday from noon to 3:30 p.m. at 1310 E. 56th Ave. and will allow Anchorage residents to recycle more types of plastic for free. Alaska Plastic Recovery can recycle type 4 and 5 plastics, which the Municipality of Anchorage does not accept. Type 4 includes most plastic shopping bags, squeezable bottles, plastic wraps and zip-close bags, and type 5 includes things like yogurt containers and disposable cups and plates. Alaska Plastic Recovery also takes types 1 and 2.

“I think it helps to have a place where you can actually recycle those things,” Murphy said. “The municipality and Solid Waste Services has been really great at working with us because they’d rather see this plastic recycled than in their landfill.”

Alaska Plastic Recovery started when founder Patrick Simpson had the idea to do something with plastics polluting the ocean after they were collected from marine debris clean-up programs. The new drop-off location will allow the company to use more post-consumer waste in addition to plastics found in the ocean.

The recycled plastic lumber has been used to build decks, picnic benches, and garden beds. The company has even worked with the Homer Trails Alliance to use the lumber for trail maintenance

Five picnic tables are outside in a gravel lot. The picnic tables are made of plastic lumber, which is various different shades of blue and green.
Alaska Plastic Recovery’s plastic lumber is often used to make picnic benches and other outdoor infrastructure since, unlike wood, it does not rot from rain or snow. (Courtesy Jerry Miller)

“We have really enjoyed working with the communities,” Murphy said. “I mean, there’s so much interest in wanting to do something that we can all actually use and not end up just throwing our plastic away.”

Murphy says she is looking forward to having open hours every Saturday where  Alaska Plastic Recovery staff will be able to interact with the community.

“We’ve actually gotten a lot of interest,” Murphy said. “People have asked and asked so that I know there have been people waiting for this.”

In addition to  Alaska Plastic Recovery’s drop-off hours, people can also drop off plastics for the company during the Solid Waste Services’ hours for the location every Thursday, Friday and Saturday from 8:30 a.m. to 3:30 p.m.

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