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The Realities of Recycling

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CENTRAL POINT, Ore.– The effort to recycle has gained popularity over the years, but some may still wonder if it is worth it. Rogue Disposal Recycling Coordinator, Denise Barnes, said it is.

“Rather than using raw materials to make new products, we are able to bring life from old products back into new products.”

Many may question the costs of recycling and wonder if the energy needed to process it, is really saves the environment. Barnes said the costs of recycling are nothing compared to what is takes for new products. She said from collecting materials, to trucking and processing, it takes a lot of money; and it has a lot of environmental impacts.

Many also think that throwing everything inside those recycling bins is helpful, but experts say that is not the right way to do it. Roxane Beigeo-Coryell is the recycling and sustainability coordinator at Southern Oregon University. She said not every recycle hauler can accept every item, and it is important to know what your hauler can take.

Recycling experts said technology evolves every year to sort out the materials that wind up inside, but it cannot detect everything. Barnes said hand sorters are often needed because things like tennis rackets and shoes wind up on the line. One of the worst things though, are plastic bags. Barnes said the bags get caught up in the pulleys and clog the whole system.

Another common problem is coffee cups.

Roxane Beigeo-Coryell said, “They usually have coffee in them when people throw them out, which means coffee gets on our paper products in the recycling and it makes it contaminated so we can’t recycle it.”

Southern Oregon does not have the facilities to actually process recyclable items into new products. They have to be shipped off hundreds of miles away to be processed. Experts said this is what makes sending a clean product so important. They said if there is too much contamination, it will often wind up in the landfill.

Some other common un-recyclable items include Styrofoam and cardboard with wax-coating or other treatments. Experts said this is why it is important to look up and see just what your haler can take.

For a list of some tips to get started, as well as a list of what can be recycled in your area, head to your local haulers website.

For Rogue Disposal and the surrounding Medford area, click here.

For Recology Ashland, click here.

Recycling experts also say sustainable efforts begin long before trash is ready to be thrown out. For a look at what you can do to reduce waste, check out this web special.