Waste in Rural Alaska

Alaska is the largest state in the Union with 366,000,000 acres of land, and a population of 710,231. Over 72% of this population lives near Fairbanks, Anchorage, or Juneau. The other 28% are scattered throughout the state in rural communities, many of which are not connected by road.

As most rural communities are only accessible by boat or air travel, each community has their own landfill since it would not be practical to ship their waste. To accommodate the large proportion of rural community landfills, the State of Alaska has designated a Class III landfill category. Class III landfills are not connected by road to a larger landfill or are more than 50 miles by road from a larger landfill and serve fewer than 1500 people.

Often numerous challenges arise and must be overcome to ensure environmentally sound, cost-effective solid waste management in these rural communities. The Solid Waste Program offers assistance to communities looking to improve their solid waste management practices and provides the knowledge and technical advice necessary to overcome the challenges. Every community is assigned to one of our Rural Landfill Specialists. They are the community's contact for permitting, inspections, and general assistance.

Find Your Rural Landfill Specialist on our Rural Class III Landfills page.

Permitting Your Landfill

Why should your local landfill be permitted?

  1. State law requires landfills to be permitted by the Solid Waste Program.
  2. Funding is an important reason. Though the Solid Waste Program does not have funds available for landfills, there are other organizations that do. A community with a permitted landfill will rank higher in the selection process than an unpermitted landfill.
  3. The permitting process increases awareness and understanding of how waste should be managed which can lead to an improved landfill and lower the risk to the community.

Contact your Rural Landfill Specialist for more information on becoming permitted or renewing your permit. We're here to help you every step of the way.

Associated Forms:

Forms and Fact Sheets

Disposal of Low-Level Petroleum Polluted Soil in a Class III Landfill Form (PDF 1MB)

Disposal of Polluted Soil Flowchart (PDF)

Household Hazardous Waste Collection (PDF)

Burning Waste in Class III Landfills (PDF)

Tips for Solid Waste Management in Rural Alaska (PDF)

Waste Index - Class III Inspection Form (Excel)

Construction and Demolition (C&D) Waste

Disposal of C&D waste in an unpermitted landfill is illegal and can result in enforcement action by DEC against the disposer. However, even in a permitted landfill, the incorrect disposal of C&D waste in rural communities can cause many problems, such as:

  • Waste takes up a large amount of landfill space.
  • The hazardous waste is not backhauled.
  • The community is not paid for the disposal, either in money or in kind services.
  • Unused materials are left in the community that may be unwanted.

Rural landfills are not required to accept C&D waste, even from projects that benefit the community. Waste disposal options should be discussed with the contracting agency when a community project is being planned so that disposal is addressed in the contract and bid documents.

For more information on disposing of C&D waste in rural communities see: