Beverage companies profit from unredeemed recyclables

I live in Ashland and was shocked when I found out that the glass I put at the curb to be recycled was actually crushed and used as fill. I now save all redeemable recycling for the very cool, under-appreciated vet down the street. But it seems that the majority of people send their glass off in their "recycling" bin to be crushed. Where do all the unredeemed deposits go? It seems to me that between California, Oregon and Washington there must be millions paid to manufacturers that is never redeemed. Who gets all that money?

— Matt L., Ashland

You're right, Matt, beverage companies get to keep all those unredeemed nickels.

Whenever Oregonians buy soda, beer or bottled water from the grocery store, they pay a 5 cent deposit in addition to the price of the beverage. That money goes to the beverage companies — but consumers can get it back if they recycle the can or bottle, said Risa Buck, waste-zero specialist at Recology Ashland Sanitary Service.

Recycling stations are set up in front of major grocery stores throughout the Rogue Valley.

You're also correct about what happens to the glass you set out at the curb in Ashland to be recycled, Buck said. Glass from the blue recycle bins is crushed and used as aggregate to make roads and parking spaces at the Valley View Transfer Station, 3000 Valley View Road. The glass is mixed with dirt, concrete and other recycled materials and then topped off with granite.

Once the transfer station runs out of uses for the aggregate material, it will need to recycle the glass in another way, but officials haven't decided what that will be yet, Buck said.

She advises consumers to recycle their bottles and cans at the stations in front of grocery stores because that way they receive money back.

However, if they don't want to do that, the next best thing is to put the bottles and cans in the recycle bin.

"If it goes in the trash, everybody loses," Buck said.

If you're curious about where your other recyclables go, you can watch the 24-minute informational video "Waste Not" on the Jackson County Recycling Partnership's website,

Send questions to "Since You Asked," Mail Tribune Newsroom, P.O. Box 1108, Medford, OR 97501; by fax to 541-776-4376; or by email to We're sorry, but the volume of questions received prevents us from answering all of them.

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