The Mat-Su Borough is changing the way it accepts scrap metal and yard debris.

Beginning Feb. 1, those two types of trash can only be dropped off at the Central Landfill in Palmer and the Big Lake Transfer Station.

The Central Landfill's scrap metal pile is an impressive collection of the Valley's trash.

"We get a lot of metal-framed furniture. I didn't know so many futons existed," said Butch Shapiro, the Solid Waste Division manager.

The Mat-Su Central Landfill takes in tons of scrap metal that get separated out from other household trash and diverted from the lined cells.

In his five years at the landfill, he's seen it all.

"The weirdest thing I see, and it's regularly, is food in refrigerators and sometimes it is nasty," he said.

The tons of trash collected at the Palmer site is separated and diverted so they don't take up precious space in the lined cells where most of the household trash goes.

That's not the case at the transfer stations where everything goes in together.

"EPA regulations require that it stay co-mingled and go into our lined cell and that's the most expensive thing to do with waste," Shapiro explained.

There's not enough room at the transfer stations to make separate scrap piles either. While the land around the Butte station looks wide open, Shapiro said it's a closed cell they have to monitor closely.

"We can't be placing things that could make its way down to the ground water. That's another reason to do this is we're being safer with the environment," he said.

Longevity is one reason for the change; cost is another. Shapiro said it's expensive to haul the heavy scraps from the transfer stations.

By limiting the places scrap metal can be dropped, he estimates the borough will save hundreds of thousands of dollars.

Butte Transfer Station waste disposal technician Cheryl Ess said she thinks customers will be understanding.

"We've always been able to take washers and dryers and refrigerators, but those are bigger items anyways. It will be harder to monitor smaller scrap metal," Ess said.

Shapiro said he's also looking to reduce the number of days certain transfer stations are open. Cutting about 1,600 operational hours will save more than $200,000, he estimated.

If approved, hour changes wouldn't go into effect until later this summer.

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