Earth Day: One year with Dillingham's Friends of the Landfill

Apr 24, 2020

Earth Day was this week, so we caught up with Paul Liedberg with the Friends of the Landfill to explore their efforts around town.

In collaboration with the Curyung Tribe and 20 volunteers, the group disposed of electronic waste and mercury riddled florescent light-bulbs.
Credit Friends of the Landfill

Before Paul Liedberg finished his term with the Dillingham City Council in 2019, he formed the Friends of the Landfill committee. The group was established to improve operations at the landfill and to assist in waste disposal. 

In the group’s first year, they built an electric fence and restricted hours at the salmon fish waste bin to help prevent the presence of bears in the community. They also helped community members clean up a shooting range by Snake Lake.

Liedburg said that last fall they collaborated with the Curyung Tribe and 20 other volunteers to dispose of some hazardous materials at the landfill. 


“With their cooperation we were able to ship out three 20 foot containers of electronics from the community," Liedberg said. "That went along with recycling the fluorescent tubes. They contain mercury so they are considered hazardous. It’s really something we need to deal with carefully. We

Credit Friends of the Landfill

were able to ship out 500 fluorescent tubes and there’s more to go for sure.”

Organizations in town are switching to LED lightbulbs to help reduce fluorescent bulb waste. The group is also exploring how to extend the life of the landfill. They want to find ways to use the incinerator more efficiently and  crush glassware. Liedberg said many of these issues are environmental and economic.


“If we can extend that thing to 40 years rather than 20, or 60 years rather than 30, it really saves money for every one of us," Liedberg said. "It saves the difficult issue of trying to develop a new landfill somewhere down the road.”

Residents can help by separating aluminum cans, glass and other materials from their trash before it hits the landfill. People can take other materials like ammunition to the Public Safety Building, fish nets to the harbor and motor oil to NAPA Auto Parts.

Liedberg said people can also help reduce waste by composting on their property.


“It’s estimated that 20% of material that goes into the landfills across the country is food waste," he said. "Compost is good for gardens, so it helps us in a couple of ways. That’s another thing we’ll encourage people to do and we’ll be working on in the near future.”

There are no restrictions for people who want to compost. The group has hosted workshops in the past and plans to continue those efforts. You can find more information about waste at dillingham ak DOT US. 

Before we hopped off the phone yesterday, Paul gave a shout out to the landfill crew and shared some other Earth Day musings.


Contact the author at or 907-842-2200