Metro News Saskatoon: April 30, 2014 - Samurai swords. Playground equipment. Used needles.
None of these objects are recyclable, yet they’ve all been collected from blue carts since Saskatoon implemented mandatory curbside pick-up last year.
“For the most part, everyone’s done a great job,” says Ryan Buhay, the community relations coordinator with Loraas Recycling.
“It’s just that when weird things come across the line – they’re really weird.”
Loraas holds the contract for recycling management for the city as well as numerous other towns, and Buhay said the company can sort through more than 100 tons of materials each day.
While common contaminators such as electronics and Styrofoam can slow down operations, Buhay said the hazardous items pose a threat to staff.
“That’s my major concern,” he said.
At the Loraas facility, industrial machines are used to process waste and separate paper, plastic, glass, tin, aluminum and cardboard into a marketable product.
Employees keep an eye on the streams and are trained to hit an emergency stop when they spot something dangerous.
“If a dirty needle comes, we have a dirty needle box,” said Buhay.
He added that there is also a special explosion-proof case for live ammunition and even animal parts have come through on occasion.
Brenda Wallace, director of environmental and corporate initiatives for the City of Saskatoon, says she is pleased with the level of participation among residents but there is room for improvement on the actual amount of recyclable materials collected.
“We seem to be averaging about 1,000 tons a month, which means we would be on track for about 12,000 tons of recyclables a year,” she said. “We really believe it should be in the more 14 to 16,000 ton range.”
The plan is to set up booths at all the upcoming summer festivals in order to raise awareness, Wallace added, and a helpful online database is accessible fromSaskatoonRecycles.ca.
She also advised people not to leave their carts in back alleys overnight, since “they really don’t know who might be putting lord knows what (in) when they’re not watching.”
Hazardous waste drop-off days take place each month in Saskatoon and there are needle collection boxes dispersed throughout the community. Call the city’s customer service line at 306-975-2476 for more information.