Cleaning Up Alaskan Coastlines Inspires Integration of Waste Project
Gulf of Alaska Keeper (GoAK) is a nonprofit formed to address conservation and environmental issues in Prince William Sound (PWS) and along the northern Gulf of Alaska (GOA) coast. One of their primary goals is combatting marine debris in all its forms. Through their marine debris program, GoAK has conducted marine debris cleanups and monitoring projects in Alaska for over 20 years. By collecting marine debris monitoring data, GoAK can determine the annual coastal debris deposition. This data is shared with Congress, the Alaska Legislature, and federal and state resource agencies to help create policy and determine cleanup priorities.
“We’re going to identify, weigh, and count every single piece of plastic and other debris that we find on our debris monitoring sites. We have about 150 categories of items, so all of that will be monitored and written down and then we can compare that to what we’ve seen in previous years,” said Patty M. Zwollo, PhD, Department of Biology, The College of William and Mary and the lead research biologist for GoAK-supported engagements.
As trash levels on Alaska’s gulf coast continue to rise, waste management, and the costs associated with it, have become major hurdles for ongoing cleanup efforts. With no local landfills, nor recycling facilities, in Alaska willing to accept marine debris, all the collected debris must be shipped at exorbitant costs to the Pacific Northwest.
“The difficulty with marine debris clean-up in Alaska is 33,000 miles of coastline. Half of Alaska you cannot reach by road, you’ve got to take a plane, you’ve got to take a boat, you’ve got to take a combination of different things,” said Lori Aldrich, Hazardous Waste Project Manager, State of Alaska.
Enter PYXERA Global, a non-profit organization who’s working toward a world where communities thrive by creating and sustaining inclusive, equitable, and regenerative systems. PYXERA Global has a long-time relationship with GoAK and knows the challenges they’re facing with waste management, especially when it comes to recycling. Through their collaboration, an all-star project team was formed: The Alliance to End Plastic Waste, CRDC (The Center for Regenerative Design & Collaboration), Dow, and FedEx. Together they worked to develop a sustainable solution to turn ocean trash into a usable product.
To determine whether the collaboration would be successful, plastic waste collected by GoAK was shipped via FedEx to a CRDC facility in Pennsylvania for further exploration. CRDC's unique process allows them to transform historically hard-to-recycle plastic into RESIN8, a building material that can improve the performance of concrete and asphalt. Due to the success of this experiment, CRDC is now exploring options with Alaska to open a facility that can create this circular economy locally.
Learn more about this project and how FedEx transported this shipment as a part of the company’s FedEx Cares “Delivering for Good” initiative, in which FedEx lends its global network and unparalleled logistics expertise to organizations with mission-critical needs in times of crisis and for special shipments.