Windy weather causes plastic problems for Mat-Su Borough Landfill

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PALMER, Alaska (KTUU) - Alaskans are no strangers to dealing with strong winds, but on Friday big gusts caused big problems for those in the Mat-Su Valley Landfill. Floating trash isn't just a danger to the environment and wildlife but also to those who live within the Mat-Su Borough.

Thousands of plastic bags become loose at the Mat-Su Borough landfill littering the area in derbies causing problems not only for the environment and wildlife but also those who live in the Mat-Su.

"As long as there's people there'll be trash, don't worry," says Allen Ullman, who works at the Mat-Su Borough Landfill, and on Monday, was picking up some of that debris.

The landfill is littered with thousands of plastic bags and other light-weighted debris such as cardboard boxes. It's blown everywhere over the site that saw high winds upwards of 25-30 miles an hour over the weekend.

"But when the winds get too strong the bull fences get filled with trash and they do move. That causes a lot of problems, you know, it gets into the trees we have to spend a little bit more money getting them out of the trees," said Terry Berger, the Mat-Su Borough Landfill Supervisor.

All the trash borough-wide comes to this single location in Palmer and according to Berger that's somewhere between 39,000-41,000 pounds of trash a day. Wasilla, one of the three cities in the Mat-Su Borough, recently issued a plastic bag ban. That's in hopes to help limit the number of light weighted plastics susceptible to getting loose and floating around only to get caught in borough resident fences or tangled in trees. Both Berger and Ullman agree: if there's less coming in, then there will be less floating around.

"As you can see from the waste that's already dumped over there, there's still a lot of cardboard. We still have a lot of recyclables that come in here to the landfill, that should be diverted and segregated and sent to our recycling facility, but it's hard to get people to understand that," said Berger.

The trash problems that the weather cause at the Mat-Su Valley Landfill won't go away overnight, and while a plastic bag ban in Wasilla may make a minor impact nothing's really going to change, Berger says, until people learn to recycle their plastic and cardboard effectively.

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