Hold onto those aluminum cans. Recycling is returning to Bethel, and ONC’s Environmental Coordinator Mary Matthias is leading the way. KYUK traveled with Matthias to what is potentially the largest site of used cans in Bethel and ground zero of where Matthias’ work will begin.Listen nowMary Matthias opening a conex of aluminum cans at the abandoned Bethel Recycling Center.(Photo by Anna Rose MacArthur, KYUK – Bethel)Transcript:KYUK: Okay, so this is the Bethel Recycling Center.Matthias: Yes, it is. We see a lot of the pop cans outside.The city abandoned the recycling center and all the recyclable material in it two years ago. The center sits just outside of the Bethel landfill.KYUK: They’re four conexes, and in two of the conexes, the doors are open and they’re these plastic bags filled with aluminum cans just spilling out. A lot of the bags are busted and the cans are just strewn across the gravel here.Matthias: They could be recycled instead of sitting here, wasting away. They still have value to them.Twenty-eight cents per pound to be exact. That’s how much ALPAR – Alaskans for Litter Prevention and Recycling – pays for aluminum cans. But Matthias says ONC doesn’t expect to turn a profit, even though Northern Air Cargo has said it will fly 10 bags of cans a day to Anchorage, free of charge, for the tribal council.The abandoned Bethel Recycling Center.(Photo by Anna Rose MacArthur, KYUK – Bethel)KYUK: So you’re going to sort through all this by hand? All these conexes?Matthias: Yeah, I’ll be wearing rubber gloves, the kind that don’t tear.So far Matthias has two entities who’ve signed up to give her their cans: the City of Bethel and AVCP, the Association of Village Council Presidents. Other groups or residents who also want to recycle their cans can contact Matthias directly.KYUK: It kind of smells. Does that bother you?Matthias: I’m just glad it’s not summer when it’s hotter and the smell would be more intense.Matthias will start recycling cans when the green recycle bags arrive from ALPAR, which should be any day. She hopes to soon expand the program to recycle both No. 1 and No.2 plastic.