Giddyup: Recycle them doggies

Potato chip bags, bubble wrap, old VHS tapes and nursery pots may look like trash, but this weekend Rogue Valley residents can turn their plastic into lumber, railroad ties or even oil.

Jackson County's first Plastic Roundup will collect plastics not normally acceptable in curbside recycling programs at three locations on Friday and Saturday.

"Plastic is so abundant in our daily lives, and there aren't a lot of opportunities to recycle many types of plastic," said Paige Prewett of the Jackson County SMART Business Program.

Her organization teamed up with the Jackson County Recycling Partnership and the Jackson County Master Recycler Program in response to demand from the community for more recycling opportunities.

"If you look in your garbage can on garbage collection day, a lot of what's going to be in there are miscellaneous types of plastic," Prewett said.

Plastics accepted at the roundup include chip and cereal bags, six-pack rings, deodorant bottles, plastic toys, DVD and CD cases, baling twine, VHS cassettes, bubble wrap, nursery pots and laundry baskets.

"It's pretty much anything plastic," Prewett said.

The roundup will not accept Styrofoam, PVC pipe, dirty plastic or plastic containing metal or electronics, she said.

Plastic should be sorted into four categories: plastic bags, farm and garden supplies, plastics with numbers and plastics without numbers. For more information on what's accepted, visit

People can drop off their plastic from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. Friday and Saturday at the Valley View Transfer Station in Ashland, Rogue Disposal Transfer Station in White City or the OSU Extension Service in Central Point.

At Southern Oregon University, environmental studies freshman Misty Munoz, with the help of the Ecology Center of the Siskiyous and the campus branch of the Oregon Student Public Interest Research Group, organized a method for students to recycle their plastic on campus.

This week, students can bring a plastic bag full of plastic to the SOU courtyard in exchange for a raffle ticket for gift certificates donated by local shops and restaurants.

"It doesn't cost anything, just your trash," Munoz said.

Students will be taking plastic and handing out raffle tickets at the courtyard from noon to 2 p.m. Tuesday and Wednesday and 9 a.m. to noon Thursday, Munoz said.

At noon on Thursday Munoz will give a presentation about how people can reduce their plastic consumption. On Friday, student volunteers will haul the plastic to the transfer station, Munoz said.

People have invented creative ways to recycle their plastic, Prewett said. The Ashland Independent Film Festival is recycling its old VHS cassettes, she said.

When Ashland resident Joanie Keller-Hand heard about the roundup, she decided to collect plastic from neighbors in her apartment complex and haul it to the drop-off location.

"I thought it made more sense for one person to bring a lot of stuff than for a bunch of people to bring a little stuff," she said. "Especially with gas prices, it doesn't make much sense to have 15 cars driving to the transfer station."

Keller-Hand herself was able to recycle plastic packaging from her recent move into the complex.

"It's pretty amazing when you start looking at the waste you produce how much of it is recyclable or compostable or reusable," she said. "Or maybe you didn't need it in the first place."

All plastic is technically recyclable, Prewett said. It's just a matter of having a market for the material.

Agri-Plas Recycling in Brooks, Ore., will take the plastic collected during the roundup.

After being sorted, the plastic will be ground up and sold to manufacturers, who use it to make products such as plastic lumber, plastic railroad ties, nursery pots and truck bedliners, said Allen Jongsma, Agri-Plas vice president.

Unlike many plastic recyclers, Agri-Plas mostly caters to a domestic market, selling about 85 percent of its plastic within the United States, Jongsma said.

Some of the recycled items end up as oil, Jongsma said. The company has a machine that extracts petroleum from the plastic, and the oil is sent to a refinery in Washington, he said.

Prewett said community response in advance of the roundup is positive.

"People just seem really grateful and excited to have another opportunity to reduce and redirect the waste they make," she said.

If the event is successful, they hope to hold it twice a year, she added.

"We're excited to see what people bring us," Prewett said. "We are looking forward to receiving mounds of plastic on the 14th and 15th."

Staff writer Kira Rubenthaler can be reached at 482-3456 ext. 226 or

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