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Ashland begins commingled curbside recycling on Friday

ASHLAND ' Tim Church is not worried Ashland's expanded recycling program is going to put him out of a job.

In fact, Church said with 300 cars visiting per day, the recycling center could use some relief.

He could see some as soon as Friday, when the city begins phasing in a commingled curbside recycling program.

It will allow residents to toss just about any recyclable but glass or motor oil into a 65-gallon cart. Until now, Ashland residents have recycled newspaper, glass, cardboard and milk jugs at the curb, and the recyclables have had to be separated.

At first, only customers whose trash is picked up Friday will have the option of taking part in the commingled curbside recycling, but the program will be phased in for those whose trash is picked up on other days as time allows. Those customers will receive a brochure explaining the program, with a card they can send in to request the 65-gallon container.

— We're not sure what kind of an effect it will have on the amount of recycling in Ashland, said Lisa Black of Ashland Sanitary and Recycling Service.

It's something that is right and we need to do, she added.

For more information about the program, customers should call Ashland Sanitary at 482-0759.

Rogue Disposal and Recycling began phasing in commingled curbside recycling for its 20,000 to 25,000 residential accounts in Jackson County about four years ago.

It's been very well received, said Don Cordell, manager of Rogue Disposal. Our customers want it.

He said with the old system where workers collected the sortedcontents of small bins, about 59 percent of the patrons recycled. Now, he said, not only has participation increased to 80 percent, but there's a 40 percent increase in the amount recycled. And that's less that goes into the landfill, he said.

He said of the 240 usable acres of the Dry Creek landfill on the back side of Roxy Ann, about 40 acres has been filled since it began operation in the mid '70s.

Both Rogue Disposal and Ashland send recyclables to Portland, where they are sorted automatically. Oregon law has required curbside recycling in communities of more than 4,000 residents since 1991.

Peter Spendelow, solid waste policy analyst for the Oregon Department of Environmental Quality, said economically, recycling success depends on the material.

Cardboard is the big-value material, he said, noting it can be sold for &

36;50 to &

36;80 per ton.

We're recycling probably 80 percent of our corrugated cardboard, he said, adding that the other 20 percent comes from wood chips.

Plastic and glass recycling is not so successful. Spendelow said plastic is so inexpensive to produce that it costs sanitary companies money to pick up and recycle. And the glass plant in Portland makes only brown bottles now, and will pay only &

36;5 per ton for glass.

Still, overall, he said, it's a good deal.

You don't expect that garbage pays for itself, either, he said.

Contact reporter Meg Landers at 776-4481 or e-mail .