What is Backhaul Alaska?

Backhaul Alaska coordinates the hauling of hazardous waste out of rural Alaska communities. The program will begin with village generated wastes, and slowly expand to become a waste service for agencies, individuals, and corporations doing business in rural Alaska.

When Will Backhaul Alaska Begin?

A two-phase pilot program for community electronics, lead acid batteries, and fluorescent light bulbs began in Summer 2018 for twenty-six villages and will end in later 2021. The program will develop over ten years.

Why is Backhaul Alaska Needed?

There is no safe way to discard hazardous wastes in rural Alaska, and backhauling is expensive and logistically difficult.  A well-coordinated statewide backhaul program will reduce risks to health and the environment, stretch rural Alaska’s limited dollar, and protect subsistence resources.

Did You Know?

Because of their remote and isolated nature, Alaska’s small rural communities use unlined landfills and burn wastes without any emissions treatment. They are the only communities in the country allowed to do this by law. While burning keeps waste management costs lower for these small populations, burning hazardous waste creates health and environmental problems. To be safe, hazardous wastes must be hauled out by barge or plane.

How Does the Program Work?

Backhaul Alaska will backhaul waste cheaper and more efficiently because:

  • Each region has a single point of contact for their communities
  • Each community is trained in streamlined and uniform protocols
  • Every rural waste generator contributes to the program
  • Innovative efforts to reduce local waste are encouraged
  • A “control tower” optimizes material transport and price brokering
  • Transporters and recyclers spend less time and incur less liability risk

In time, Backhaul Alaska will operate as a full management service for any entity generating waste in rural Alaska.

For greater detail, click here to access the Backhaul Alaska draft plan.

What is the history of the program?

There is a long history of individual village backhaul and regional projects in Alaska, but prior to Backhaul Alaska, there has never been a statewide backhaul effort.  The statewide group, the Solid Waste Taskforce (SWAT) has been actively involved in all aspects of the Backhaul Alaska Program and its development. The following table lists the dates and steps towards developing the Backhaul Alaska program:

2014Senator Murkowski conceives Adopt a Barge;
The Solid Waste Alaska Taskforce (SWAT) formed at ATCEM
2015An expert statewide backhaul panel convenes and adds to a framework;
Framework is further developed at Regional Tribal Reps meeting
2016Community/transporter/agency meetings take place;
A Draft Statewide Sustainable Backhaul Plan is developed
2017The Plan is vetted, refined, and implementation begins
February 2018Pilot Project 1 kicks off
June 2018First Pilot Backhaul Training is held
February 2019Pilot Project 2 kicks off
Spring 2019Material Backhauled from Pilot 1 Communities
May 2019Second Pilot Backhaul Training is held
November 2019Selection Process for Control Tower entity completed
November 2019The Backhaul Alaska Advisory Board is formed

For information about the Pilot Program click here.