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Yes, your red bin material is recycled

(Editor's note: This story has been changed to reflect the correct percentage of material that was eligible for recycling in June.)

I have read every article in the paper about the current recycling problems with China and our own Rogue Disposal. And every time I am left with the following questions: What does Rogue Disposal recycle? Where am I to put these items so they will be recycled? In the red bins or only out at the transfer station? The truth please and nothing but the truth.

— Steven B., by email

So help us, God, Steven, this is the truth as we know it:

Rogue Disposal and Recycling will accept and recycle the following four items: corrugated cardboard, tin and aluminum cans, newspaper, and milk-jug-style containers. If you place those items in your red bin, and nothing but those items, your recycling will be recycled.

That’s per Garry Penning, Rogue Disposal’s director of governmental affairs, who says those materials are being shipped out for recycling, because there remains a domestic market for them.

Glass bottles and jars can be recycled at several drop-off spots in the valley: Rogue Disposal’s transfer station in White City, Sherm’s Thunderbird and Food 4 Less in Medford and Ray’s Food Place in Central Point, Phoenix and Jacksonville. That glass will be recycled in a different way: It will be crushed and used instead of crushed rock at the company’s landfill. The glass is used to assist with drainage, similar to a french drain. Lids and any food or liquid should be removed before recycling. Labels may be left on bottles, but do not include glassware, window glass or light bulbs. Broken glass should go in the trash, not in the recycling boxes.

If you include material in your red bin that isn’t among the fabulous four listed above, it likely will be sent to recycling, at least the first time. But it will eventually end up in a landfill somewhere. The company has cameras that record the recycling as it’s being dumped into the trucks. If nonrecyclable material is spotted, the customer will receive an “oops” tag on their red bin, noting the material that was incorrectly included. If the material is spotted before it’s dumped, the red bin will not be emptied and an “oops” tag will be left on the bin.

Rogue Disposal is able to recycle only materials that have domestic markets, and the cleaner the material, the more likely it won’t end up in a landfill. When the recycling issue first broke earlier this year, Rogue Disposal surveyed its recycling bin pickups and found that nearly half of the material placed in red bins didn’t qualify for recycling. In June, the amount that was recycled hit 98.8 percent, Penning says.

So keep your chins up, recyclers, your good work is paying off. And that’s the truth.

Send questions to “Since You Asked,” Mail Tribune Newsroom, P.O. Box 1108, Medford, OR 97501; by fax to 541-776-4376; or by email to youasked@rosebudmedia.com. We’re sorry, but the volume of questions received prevents us from answering all of them.