Effort goes into recycling

Several friends of mine do not recycle their garbage because they say an employee of Rogue Disposal told them that all garbage goes to the same place and there actually is no recycling. I disagree with them and would appreciate knowing the facts. Also, regarding the small plastic container and other plastics that are not supposed to go into the commingled recycling bin, where do they get recycled? Is glass truly recycled? I guess there are several different recycling companies in the area, but I am not clear on who does what and where they are located. Please straighten us out.

— Susan W., Medford

That's a lot of straightening out to do, Susan, but you are absolutely right. The recycling doesn't go to one place, and there is a great deal of behind-the-scenes effort that goes into recycling.

"Most definitely all the recycling in the commingled cart is processed and sent to a recycler," said Denise Barnes, recycling coordinator for Rogue Disposal and Recycling.

In fact, Rogue Disposal and other collectors are required to provide documentation to the state Department of Environmental Quality describing how much trash is recycled. The target recycling percentage for all of Jackson County is 40 percent, but in 2009, of the 80,000 tons sent to landfills, 41.6 percent was recycled, she said.

Where and how a product gets recycled depends on the substance. Metal is sent to local recyclers in the valley. Tires are sent to California. Paper products and cardboard are sent to the Springfield area.

Glass isn't sent to another area. Rogue Disposal crushes the glass and lines pipe trenches and other excavated areas in the landfill. Barnes said the glass is used instead of aggregate for the trenching work and is a DEQ-approved process.

Plastic butter tubs and yogurt containers are not recycled by Rogue Disposal, though the company hopes to recycle them in the future.

Barnes said those items can be turned in at an annual recycling drive that will be held from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. Oct. 14 and 15 at both the Jackson County Expo and Ashland Armory.

Any kind of plastic, from straws to forks, can be recycled at the event. Some of the plastic used in nurseries is recycled by local farmers. A $5 flat fee is charged for any homeowner who brings in any quantity of plastic. For businesses, the cost is $5 a cubic yard.

By the way, Susan, some disposal companies allow you to mix recycled materials with trash, but Rogue Disposal requires separating the two. That's why it provides a separate container for the recycled products.

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