A city of Longview recycling cart is dumped into a sanitation truck in March. The City Council on Thursday approved a $1.25-a-month fee for recycling that customers will see on their sanitation bills the rest of the fiscal year. (Michael Cavazos/News-Journal Photo)

QUESTION: How much of our recycling goes into the secondary processes for items that have been recycled or are they, now that China is no longer receiving our recyclables, are they just put into the dump?

ANSWER: No, they are not just going to the dump. When Longview residents put their recyclables at the road, the city collects them and takes them to Rivers Recycling between Longview and Kilgore.

Justin Skinner, facility manager at Rivers Recycling, explained it in a way that made sense to me: if the facility wasn’t sending recyclables on to the next step for processing, the company wouldn’t make money and it wouldn’t be here.

“Because we wouldn’t be making any money,” he said. “We sort the loads and then we sell them as they are sorted.”

He provided what I thought were some interesting ballpark figures for the work the company does, including this big picture total: He said Rivers receives about 1,200 tons of material each month. About 1,000 tons of that is sold to companies in the next phase of recycling and about 200 tons goes to the landfill each month. That 200 tons is, generally speaking, things that can’t be sold to make any kind of profit (and that really shouldn’t be placed in the recycle bins.) That includes things like water hoses and extension cords, 5 gallon buckets, clothes, yard waste and trash bags. (Ironic, right?)

“That’s why we big time encourage people to throw loose recyclables in the bin and not put it in a bag,” Skinner said.

Those 1,200 tons include about 200 tons a week of mixed paper and cardboard that is being sent to a mill in Shreveport that processes that material and makes paper and other materials out of it, Skinner said.

Items such as milk jugs are sent to the next level of processing to the tune of about 20 tons a month.

Laundry-detergent style bottles also account for about 20 tons a month, and there’s a processor that gets about 20 tons of aluminum and steel cans every three or four months that are then melted down so they can be made into something else, Skinner said.

Q: Do we have to remove caps from things like milk jugs and soda bottles before we recycle them? What about the rings from milk jugs?

A: You do not, according to Skinner, the facility manager at Rivers Recycling.

“You can leave all of that on there,” and the bottles don’t have to be rinsed, he said. “When you’re done with it, put the cap on it and recycle it.”

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— Answer Line appears Wednesday and in the Weekend edition. Email questions to, leave a message at (903) 232-7208 or write to P.O. Box 1792, Longview, TX 75606

Jo Lee Ferguson wishes she kept her maiden name - Hammer - because it was perfect for a reporter. She’s a local girl who loves writing about her hometown. She and LNJ Managing Editor Randy Ferguson have two children and a crazy husky.