Fairbanks Rescue Mission’s Recycling Center celebrates anniversary

From The Fairbanks Daily News-Miner, Saturday, September 4, 2010:

The Fairbanks Rescue Mission celebrates the first anniversary of its recycling center today with a barbecue and open house starting at noon.

Executive director Rodney Gaskins will be available to guide things along. Visitors might get to check out the baler that compacts the cardboard, mixed papers and aluminum the center receives. One bale of cardboard can weigh 800 pounds, while a bale of mixed paper can weigh about 1,700 pounds.

“It’s a mark of success,” Gaskins said of reaching the one-year mark.

The center surpassed its millionth pound of recycled materials in July and expects to hit 1.5 million pounds by the end of this month. The recycled paper is sent to Anchorage to become insulation, and the aluminum stays in Fairbanks where it’s sold to C&R Pipe and Steel Inc.

So far, the program is paying for itself. “A nonprofit is mission-driven,” he said, “we’re successful whether we’re making money or not.”

The plan was for the Rescue Mission to take baby steps at least until it had one year under its belt. Now he believes the recycling center can take the next big step.

“We really wanted to start small,” Gaskins said.

As he put it: “Don’t start a restaurant until you have the capability of managing a hot dog stand really well.”

The center plans to expand in the near future by adding plastics to the list of materials that can be recycled but that can’t now because of insufficient storage space.

“For us, it means that we have been able to build a sustainable recycle program,” said John Lofquist, who works at the center. “It’s allowed Fairbanks to have a recycle option.”

The center will operate at its regular hours during today’s celebration; it will be open to the public from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m.