Contest encouraging creative recycling solutions, giving purpose to trash

Two winners will receive big cash prizes
The idea was inspired by Thermo-Kool of Alaska, a Wasilla company that uses cellulose insulation made with 85% of locally recycled materials.
Published: Jul. 26, 2022 at 6:28 PM AKDT
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BIG LAKE, Alaska (KTUU) - Big Lake recycling enthusiasts are hosting a unique opportunity to help out Mother Earth, and maybe even win some cash doing it. Mid Valley Recycling is hosting a grant application program in coordination with the Valley Center for Recycling Solutions and Mat-Su Health Foundation, encouraging people to see the beauty when it comes to trash.

The Big Lake-based recycling group comes from humble beginnings, starting with a makeshift trailer before upgrading to Matanuska-Susitna Borough-issued recycling bins. As the small corner of the Big Lake Transfer Station grew in popularity, so did the community’s interest in reducing and reusing materials.

As the volunteers ring in the 10th anniversary of the Mid Valley Recycling center’s establishment, they’re looking to celebrate a couple of individuals who want to take recycling to the next level — taking materials otherwise destined for recycling centers in the Lower 48 or trash destined for the landfill and giving it a purpose.

The idea was inspired by Thermo-Kool of Alaska, a Wasilla company that uses cellulose insulation made with 85% of locally recycled materials. Mid Valley Recycling wants to see someone come up with a similar concept and said no idea is too crazy, no material off limits.

“See if we can’t use it just like Thermal Cool does use it to get remanufactured here in the valley, so we can have a new product that we can sell right here in the valley,” said Mid Valley Recycling Secretary and Founder Sammy Taylor.

Whether it’s using plastic bottles for home improvement, converting propane tanks to garden beds, or making jewelry out of used glass — the treasurer of the organization, Steven Hawk said it’s to go beyond “reduce, reuse, recycle” and start thinking about how to repurpose.

“Sometimes like styrofoam and other products that wouldn’t be able to be recycled — could you reuse that” Hawk said. “So in other words, for part of the grant is — can you think of an idea to use something that isn’t currently being recycled?”

There are two categories in the contest. The winner of the over 21 years old category will walk away with $5,000 in prize money, while the under 21 years old winner will receive $3,000. Applications are due Jan. 31 with the winners being announced Mar. 1.

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