Letter at Length

Recycle plastics, but avoid them, too

A special thanks to all of the participants who came out on Oct. 14 and 15 for our fourth annual Plastic Round-up in Southern Oregon. We owe a hearty appreciation to our stellar volunteer community.

The Jackson County Master Recyclers guided the way along with other community members. We could not offer this event without the generous sweat and enthusiasm from our volunteers. Have you thanked a master recycler lately for their many waste diversion contributions to our community?

During the two-day Plastic Round-up at the Expo in Central Point and in Ashland, 577 vehicles showed up at the Ashland Armory on East Main Street. Volunteers helped fill 272 large white sacks of sorted hard, soft and nursery plastics. This amount equals approximately 452.2 yards of plastics. Additionally, there were 125 yards of large hard plastics sent to Agri-Plas for recycling. We don't yet have the total tonnage yielded from this year's event.

As you may know, our regular commingled recycling collections are limited to certain items. During the Plastic Round-up we are able to accept to-go boxes and clamshells, nursery plastics and plastic chairs that would contaminate the local year-round commingled recycling. Rather than sending this material to the landfill and spend 16 dollars a yard to treat it as garbage, participants spent $5 a yard to have it hauled up to Brooks. The Jackson County Recycling Partnership teams up with Brooks-based plastic recycler Agri-Plas Inc. to handle the plastics, which go for a variety of end uses. Some plastic will be shaped into pellets and sold to manufacturers to create new plastic items, such as nursery pots, plastic "lumber" and railroad ties. Some of the plastics sent to Agri-Plas are diverted to a new, innovative and clean technology that extracts the petroleum out of the plastics for reuse as fuel.

Events like this remind us how much plastic surrounds us in our daily lives. When we set the plastics aside and watch the mound grow, it can serve as inspiration to select products that have minimal packing material. Consumers can speak by choosing to purchase durable products rather than disposable (single-use) or poorly made products or products housed in plastic. Let your retailers and manufacturers know how you feel about having to deal with the (plastic) byproduct from consuming their product.

Thanks for all the recyclables you have diverted from the landfill and double thanks for efforts you take to avoid the stuff in the first place!

If you want more info on waste prevention and recycling please check out www.RecologyAshlandSanitaryService.com and www.jcrecycle.org.

Risa Buck, waste zero specialist

Recology Ashland Sanitary Service

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