Glass recycling won't return to good ol' days

So now we have no glass recycle unless each individual gets in a car and drives to a few drop-off spots in the valley. So we're going backwards here. Why can't we go back to the former system using red tubs that are picked up by Rogue Disposal's special truck (for glass only)? When they abandoned this former method for commingling, the price for service did not go down. Why can't we resume this recycle method?

— R. Murray, Medford

It does feel like we're going backwards, R. Murray, particularly when the valley has embraced recycling so enthusiastically.

Rogue Disposal originally did away with the tubs to create a more fully automated system, so glass placed in the recycling "garbage can" could be picked up by the truck arms, rather than having an employee get out of the truck to collect the tub.

"One guy picked up what two people picked up," said Garry Penning, spokesman for Rogue Disposal. "There was a savings there, a labor savings and a capital savings because we only needed one kind of truck."

He said it was inefficient picking up separate batches of glass and other recyclables on the same truck. At times, the trucks would fill up with too many recyclables on a given trip and would have to return to dump their loads, which was inefficient.

At the time, automated equipment being used in the recycling industry helped sort through recycled materials, making it easier for the consumer and for Rogue Disposal.

Also, markets were expanding, until China began clamping down on the recycling materials it would accept a few years ago.

To return to the day of tubs, Rogue Disposal would need to buy different trucks and add drivers, which could raise the costs charged to consumers.

Like other industries, Rogue Disposal has had difficulty finding drivers in the improved economy, which could present another hurdle for bringing back the tub pickups.

— 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 youasked@rosebudmedia.com. We’re sorry, but the volume of questions received prevents us from answering all of them.

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