Recycling changes could hit Josephine County

Josephine County, Ore. — An import ban from China has taken away Southern Oregon’s ability to recycle certain materials.

Rogue Disposal in Jackson County has already made changes to deal with the impacts.

Next, is Josephine County.

Josephine County is planning to follow what Jackson County has already established by changing the rules on what materials can be recycled, and potentially increasing rates. That way the hope is that markets will accept our recyclables.

Josephine County residents will most likely be seeing changes in the curbside recycling program soon.

“Currently we landfill our material… Because there is no market for it,” Southern Oregon Sanitation’s Trent Carpenter said.

Since the start of this year, China has been enforcing an import ban, saying it will no longer accept recyclables from the United States as there was too much contamination.

“Wishful recycling where if you think it might be able to be recycled and you put it in a blue bin and see what happens… Is exactly what gets an entire load of recycling rejected,” Carpenter said.

To make sure everyone is recycling the right materials, Trent Carpenter with Southern Oregon Sanitation says Josephine County plans to mimic Jackson County’s recent changes.

That means only certain items will be accepted.

Items like corrugated cardboard — which doesn’t include shoe boxes or cereal boxes.

Southern Oregon Sanitation will also accept aluminum cans, tin cans, newspapers, and plastic milk jugs.

“If we can say all of Southern Oregon is under the same program and we’re all trying very hard to keep a very clean material, it benefits us trying to move that material,” Carpenter said.

County commissioners, the city of Grants Pass, and the city of Cave Junction will consider these material changes in the near future.

And they’re also planning for a potential rate increase down the road.

Southern Oregon used to be paid for its recycled material, but now Southern Oregon is the one who is paying.

“We now have to pay upwards of $150 dollars a ton to get rid of that material, and that cost has to be covered, and it has to come from somewhere,” Carpenter said.

The rate increase would most likely be a flat fee of two dollars per customer per month.

Grants Pass residents Nancy and Kirt Buer say they’d be willing to pay it, but they hope more progressive work is done to keep contaminants out of recycling.

“We’ll do whatever they tell us we need to do and we’ll pay the extra fees because we believe in it. But I think people could be a little more self aware and conscious about what they’re doing,” Nancy Buer said.

Grants pass city council will consider the material changes next Wednesday, and will also consider the rate increases later in the year.

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