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Since You Asked: Get into recycling shape

We recently moved to Medford, and we're confused by the plastic recycling here. In our former locations, plastic recycling was done for Nos. 1 and 2 plastic types. Here, we're told it's by the "shape" (bottle shape), which we find open to wild interpretation. What is a good standard we can use to determine what is and is not recyclable?

— Maureen S., Medford

Maureen, we will try to bring your recycling confusion to an end.

Rogue Disposal and Recycling Inc. serving Medford, Jacksonville, Phoenix and Central Point recycles any item with a neck more narrow than its base, which generally limits the types of plastics recycled to those with higher value.

Rogue collects it that way because that's the way its Clackamas recycling processor, KB Recycling, wants it. KB sorts the items and sends them for recycling according to type. Types 1 through 7 can be recycled and used to make items such as carpet fiber, containers and plastic lumber for outdoor decking.

"In the past plastic tubs had no market value and were difficult to recycle," said Denise Wolgamott, Rogue Disposal recycling coordinator. "In today's market, and with the rising cost of virgin petroleum-based products, they do in fact have some value, though still less than the bottles. We have discussed this with our processor, but because it is still a fairly low-value plastic, we also must have long-term commitment from our sort facility that once we add it to our mix they will always continue to accept it, no matter what."

Rogue Disposal asks that customers remove the lids and rinse if necessary.

Send questions to "Since You Asked," Mail Tribune Newsroom, P.O. Box 1108, Medford, OR 97501; by fax to 541-776-4376; or by e-mail to youasked@mailtribune.com. We get so many questions we can't answer them all, but we'll try.