OREGON STATE UNIVERSITY

Plastic Roundup Engages Recycling Partners in Jackson County

11/07/2008

JACKSON COUNTY, Ore. – The Jackson County Plastic Roundup, the first event of its kind in the county, engages Master Recyclers with several partners to reduce and prevent solid waste.

The roundup, which will be Nov. 14 and 15 from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. at three locations in the county, makes it easy to recycle plastic of all kinds, such as bags, toys, buckets and even lawn furniture, CDs and VCR cassettes.

The new Master Recycler program is run by the Oregon State University Extension Service in Jackson County in partnership with the Jackson County Saving Money and Resources Together (SMART) program and the Jackson County Recycling Partnership. The latter is a consortium of cities within the county, Jackson County itself, franchised waste haulers (Rogue Disposal & Recycling, Ashland Sanitary & Recycling, and Southern Oregon Sanitation), and other local recycling businesses.

More than 100 people await the opportunity to become trained in the Master Recycler program, according to Rhianna Simes, coordinator of the program for OSU Extension Service in Jackson County.

"It's amazing how people have responded to the first eight-week training," Simes said, "There's been an incredible outpouring of interest. People want to make smart choices to reduce consumption, prevent waste, and compost – the real 'nitty gritty' of solid waste – and help others learn, as well," she said.

Master Recyclers will staff drop-off locations for the Plastic Roundup and help raise awareness about the event. As part of the program, volunteers are required to give 30 service hours to educate the community about solid-waste reduction.

"If the November event is a success, the plastic roundup could potentially occur twice a year," Simes said.

Just about any kind of plastic can be chipped, melted and sold to manufacturers, where it finds new life as nursery pots, plastic "lumber" or plastic railroad ties, Simes said. The collected materials from the Jackson County roundup will be shipped to Agri-Plas, Inc. in Brooks, Ore., where 80 percent of the recycled plastic will stay in the United States and become new products.

In November 2007, the Oregon Department of Environmental Quality approved a $22,000 grant to create the Jackson County Master Recycler program. Modeled after several existing programs in Oregon, the first course introduced 34 business representatives and local residents to waste prevention, composting, hazardous waste reduction and the local solid waste infrastructure.

"The first group of Jackson County Master Recyclers will graduate on Dec. 1, after collectively contributing several hundred volunteer hours in successful community waste reduction efforts," Simes said.

A list of acceptable and unacceptable items for the plastic roundup is posted at http://www.jcrecycle.org/.

Drop-off locations for the plastic roundup are Rogue Disposal Transfer Station at 8001 Table Rock Rd. in White City; Valley View Transfer Station at 3000 Valley View Rd. in Ashland; and OSU Extension Service at 569 Hanley Rd. in Central Point.