Why Should You Buy Our Loraas Organics Compost?

Our Loraas Organics facility has been operating for over a year and we’ve got some premium compost available to show for it. Why should you buy our product? Our compost is CQA approvedClass A CompostWhat does that mean? The CQA is the Compost Quality Alliance of Canada and our compost has been approved by them.

“The CQA standard is based on simple, basic agronomic principles: specifically, nutrient uptake and availability of the compost; and specific nutrient levels and their application across different agricultural groups.”
-Greg Patterson of the Compost Council of Canada

Our compost is also Class A and can be used in any application, such as agricultural lands, residential gardens, horticultural operations, the nursery industry, and other businesses with great success.

We’ve got an excellent product which should make an easy decision on where to buy your compost or garden ready mix this year, but we’d be missing out on the bigger picture if we didn’t talk about how and why we make this compost.

Our Loraas Organics compost facility is a $7M investment that was 100% privately funded by Loraas, no levels of government contributed to it or directly support its operation. We are a family owned & operated business who built this facility to be able to offer a new waste diversion option for our customers.

The compost technology that Loraas invested in is called the GORE system. It allows our customers to recycle food waste (including bones, meats, and dairy) that cannot be composted in your back yard compost bin or at any yard waste drop-off depots. This means we are getting more biodegradable material out of the landfills than any other program in Saskatchewan.

  • Compost that is made from a diversified feedstock like ours which includes food waste has the highest levels of nutrients and provides the following benefits to your soil:
    • Adds slow-release macronutrients and organic matter in a significant quantity
    • Improves soil structure, porosity, and density, thus creating a better environment for plant roots
    • Supports and enhances the soil’s beneficial micro-organisms, such as earthworms
    • Enables light sandy soil to better retain nutrients and moisture
    • Enhances the soil’s ability to clean the water that passes through it
    • Results in a darker soil colour which better holds the warmth of the sun
    • Improves and stabilizes soil pH

Loraas Organics compost products are regularly tested to ensure they meet the CQA standards of the Canadian Compost Council. We are one of the few suppliers in the province who meet or exceed the CQA standard.

When planning your garden this spring, make sure to think of our Loraas Organics compost & garden ready mix. It’s a great way to support a local business and it’s made from tonnes of materials diverted from the landfill!

To see more information about our products & pricing click here.


Over-Packaging: How to Write a Letter to Manufacturers

It’s hard to wrap our heads around the amount of excess packaging on our store shelves. Plastic can play a vital role in protecting products during shipping, preventing theft, or extending the longevity of certain foods – but a large majority is pure waste. In fact, 89% of all the plastics created worldwide annually are unable to be recycled and therefore are strictly garbage (Environmental Defense, 2019). As a consumer, we can choose a lifestyle of low-waste or opt for reusable items that are eco-friendly; however, we can be limited by the manufacturer’s choice on packaging materials.

How can you help? Voice your opinion! Write a letter to the ones who can make these changes. It may feel like one person can’t make a difference, but you never know how many other individuals with the same concerns as you have previously spoken out. Here are 5 key points when writing an impactful complaint letter to companies:

  • Leverage Brand Loyalty

Consumers can simply switch brands, though some options are very limited or we have loyalty to certain companies. In this case, illustrate to the company why you like their product while stating your disappointment that their eco-goals don’t match with yours.

  • Present Evidence

Make the company aware of current environmental issues caused by over-packaging. Use statistics or scientific evidence from legitimate sources to back up your case.

  • Be Direct

Make sure your request for change is obvious and direct to reduce confusion. Some possible questions are, “Is your company looking for sustainable packaging alternative?” or “May I give you a suggestion about alternative packaging?”

  • Kindness is Key

Sending positive words will make the manufacturer more receptive to your request.  Passion can sometimes come across as aggression. Remember to be courteous because most people only go out of their way to write a letter if they’re angry. A positive message is more likely to bring about constructive change.

  • Hello, it’s me…  

Follow up is important, but only in moderation. Leave at least a week in between each follow up if you haven’t heard back. Follow up two or three times, and if there is still no response you may want to consider switching companies.

Source

Environmental Defense. 2019. Canada’s plastic pollution problem. Accessed at: https://environmentaldefence.ca/canadas-plastic-pollution-problem/. Accessed on: 6 February 2020.


The “Magic” Behind the MRF – Why Recycling Properly Matters

“Recycling is like magic – it turns things into other things!” – Unknown.

In theory, recycling is like magic, but items placed into a recycling cart do not actually disappear. This illusion operates with the help of many employees that collect and sort your recyclable materials before they go off to their final destination to be made into new products. The truth is, not everything we purchase is made from materials that can be recycled. Although we have been told certain products are recyclable, such as needles, aerosol cans, batteries, used oil, and metal propane cylinders, these items are only accepted at specialized recycling facilities or retailers; not in the blue cart. But – why?

Our single-stream recycling programs and our Materials Recovery Facility (MRF) were designed specifically for household packaging and mixed paper products. MRF workers have to physically handle all items from your recycling carts that pass through to their final destinations; potentially exposing them to non-approved items like sharp razor blades, health hazards like used feminine hygiene products, and explosives like dispensed ammunition. Improperly recycled items can cause major issues such as explosions and fires, environmental or human exposure to toxic substances, injury, or worse. To prevent safety threats to all employees dealing with your recycling, it boils down to public responsibility for what is placed into the blue carts. Please don’t let careless errors terminate a convenient and simple service for everyone, or place someone’s life at risk.

Knowing what is and is not recyclable in different recycling programs can be difficult – it takes extra effort and responsible participation from all residents to make these programs run efficiently and properly. So, what can you do to help? Take action in your community, be responsible for your own waste, and don’t rely on others to do the job for you. If you are unsure if an item is recyclable, don’t guess – ask! Educate yourself by using the Saskatchewan Waste Reduction Council recycling search engine, following us on social media @LoraasYXE, or come for a recycling plant tour!   


Loraas Organics – We’ll Take Your Leftovers

Organic waste accounts for 30% to 70% of what Saskatchewan residents and businesses discard as garbage daily. Traditional composting systems, such as backyard or commercial windrowing, all have decomposition limitations on what can and cannot be accepted for compost. Advanced organics recycling is now a reality in the Saskatoon area with Loraas Organic’s programs. Managing your organic waste has never been more convenient and cost-effective.

The Loraas Organics facility is the first in Saskatchewan to use aerated static pile composting technology and is located just outside of Saskatoon. During our industrial composting process, the heat and odours created by the decomposing organic waste are trapped by a GORE® textile cover. With controlled high temperatures, Loraas is able to process year-round and turn organic waste into nutrient rich compost in as little as 8 to 13 weeks rather than months or years. Due to these precise controls our green cart and bin program can accept complex organic materials including proteins and bones, grains, and solidified-dairy products for decomposition; substances excluded from traditional composting programs.

Without the presence of oxygen and UV sunlight rays, when organic waste breaks down in a landfill methane gas is emitted instead of carbon dioxide. Methane from landfills accounts for approximately 11% of the world’s Greenhouse Gas emissions. Composting lowers these emissions by 75% and is the best alternative for households and businesses to divert usable materials away from landfill while effortlessly decrease their environmental impact.

Reducing your waste and starting your journey to helping the planet is as simple as picking up the phone. Give us a call at 306-242-2300 and talk to one of our representatives. Looking for more information? Visit the organics section of our website; Click Here.

Sources

The Business Advisor. 2019. Food for thought: Preparing for organics recycling. Accessed at: https://www.bizadv.ca/food-for-thought-preparing-for-organics-recycling/. Accessed on: 15 April 2020.


Earth Day: Indoor Celebration Ideas

Earth Day 2020 is here! Are you looking for ways to celebrate this special and important day – indoors? Although our celebrations will be slightly non-traditional this year, we can still do our part to help Mother Nature on the 50th anniversary. Here are 5 zero-waste tips to help make your indoor Earth Day celebrations a success:

  • Learn about Earth Day

With children being out of school, many parents have taken the route of educating from home. Teach your children about the importance of Earth Day by incorporating it into your lesson plan. Educate them on different environmental issues and how different people across the Globe celebrate. A great resource is the Earth Day Organization. They have tool-kits, quizzes, challenges, and more!

  • Plant an indoor garden

With the warm weather arriving soon, now is a great time to begin the growing season. No worries if you don’t have an outdoor garden, a window sill will do too! If you can’t run out and grab seeds or seedling starter trays, look for alternative solutions around your home. Use cuttings from other plants, remove the seeds from your fruit and vegetables, or start seedlings in egg cartons or disposable rotisserie chicken containers.

  • Analyze your energy consumption

To save energy, we’ve been told to turn off lights and change to energy efficient options. But, do you really know how much energy your household consumes? Calculate how much power it takes to run your devices by using an online calculators, like SaskPower power consumption calculator. Unplug devices that are not in use, as some will continue to use power even when turned off.

  • Maintain HVAC systems

As heating and cooling costs make up the majority of our energy intake, ensure you complete regular maintenance on heating, venting, and air conditioning systems. Furnace filters should be changed out  every three months, or monthly if you have heavy shedding pets. When temperatures warm, keep your windows and blinds closed so that air conditioning doesn’t run consistently.

  • Start composting

Anyone can start composting their organic waste, even if you don’t have a yard to spread the final product. Composting turns organics waste into a usable product and reduces Greenhouse Gas Emissions. Not sure which option is right for you? Simply use The Saskatchewan Waste Reduction Council’s composting quiz to find which system is right for your household.

Have other ideas on how you will make this Earth Day triumphant? Let us know! Follow our social media @LoraasYXE and tag us in a photo. Follow along as Loraas celebrates the week of April 20th to 25th,  giving you fun facts and simple zero-waste hacks.


Unraveling the Truth: A Guide to Finding Quality Clothing

North Americans buy five times the amount of clothing than we did 25 years ago. Unfortunately, the majority of clothing we purchase fall into the category of “fast-fashion” and 85% of those pieces are disposed after a mere two wears. Buying good quality clothing that will last years, rather than weeks is key to reducing excess textile waste. You can’t always tell if a garment is good quality by the high price tag, so how do you know which clothing products that are quality versus fast-fashion?

Here are 5 guidelines to follow to help you find clothing that will last:

  • Stretch the Fabric

 Gently pull the fabric then release. This will allow you to see if the fabric will retain its shape or if it will easily become stretched out.

  • Fabric Thickness

 Unless your garment is meant to be opaque, you can determine how thick your fabric is by holding a garment upwards to see if the light penetrates through. The less light that is visible, the thicker the fabric.

  • Stitching

Take a look at how your garment was sewn by checking whether the thread looks strong or if it is loose or has missed stiches. You can also gently tug on the seams to see if they hold securely.

  •  Fabric Pattern

 If your garment has a pattern, it should always match up to the seams. If it doesn’t, it means it was created quickly.

  • Buttons and Zippers

 Check to see if the buttons on your garment fit the hole. If the holes are over-sized or a tight squeeze for the button, these are signs of fast-fashion. If your garment comes with a spare button, metal buttons, or a metal zipper imprinted with “YKK”, these are signs of quality as they are stronger and more expensive than using their plastic alternatives.

New fashions come and go monthly and trying to keep up-to-date with the magazines is an endless battle. Smart purchases not only will save your hard-earned dollars, but it also helps the environment by reducing virgin textile production. It can pay off in the long run to invest in good quality, versatile pieces that will last rather than replacing over and over. If you desire a change, try clothing swaps with your friends or family. It’s not a new item, yet it is new to you! One fiber at a time we can unravel the current textile problem together!


COVID-19 Response: Waste Management Guidelines for Residents & Businesses

With the COVID-19 virus (“coronavirus”) present within Saskatchewan communities, it is imperative we all work together to protect one another, including those who continue to provide us with essential services. Loraas has developed safe waste disposal guidelines for residents and businesses within Central and Northern Saskatchewan that began March 23, 2020 until further notice.

We wish to emphasize that these guidelines are being put in place as a precautionary measure to protect the health and safety of our team who handle thousands of receptacles a week and physically sort recycling daily. Proper disposal of potentially contaminated items is also a good safeguard to have in place to protect the general public.

Here are seven guidelines for residents and businesses to follow for safe waste disposal during the global COVID-19 pandemic:

  1. If you or anyone in your household is sick, please place ANY item that has come into contact with your mouth, nose, eyes, or hands in a bag and into the garbage – even items that you normally place into your blue cart/bin (i.e. water/beverage bottles, yogurt containers, milk/juice cartons, etc.)
  2. Bag all garbage securely and place it into your black/waste cart.
  3. Used tissues and disposable cleaning products (i.e. wipes), should be placed into a bag then into your black/garbage cart only.
  4. Ensure accessible cart placement with 4ft between carts or obstacles to avoid manual handling by our collectors; as illustrated below.
  5. Recyclable items should be placed loosely into your blue/recycling cart; excluding potentially contaminated recyclables mentioned above. Ensure recyclables are clean and not food-soiled.
  6. Cart lids must be fully closed to prevent windblown items. Items placed outside of the carts will not be collected.
  7. Cleaning products and aerosols with warning labels should not be placed into your recycling cart. Please hold onto these items and use a Household Hazard Collection Day program if available in your community.
https://i2.wp.com/www.loraas.ca/wp-content/uploads/2020/03/cart_placement_culdesac_bulb.png?ssl=1

For excess garbage, recycling, or organic waste, The Loraas Landfill just north of Saskatoon, SK will remain open to the public. In addition, Loraas Recycle’s public recycling depot in Saskatoon is available 24/7. For details and hours, click here.  Loraas’ offices will be closed to the public, but our representatives are still able to assist you. Please call (306) 242-2300 for questions or concerns.

From your friends at Loraas, please take care of one another and stay safe!

Sources

City of Kingston, 2020. COVID-19. Accessed at: https://www.cityofkingston.ca/resident/covid-19. Accessed on: 20 March 2020.

City of Saskatoon, 2019. Accessed at: https://www.saskatoon.ca/services-residents/waste-recycling/cart-placement. Accessed on: 24 March 2020.


The Great Pacific Garbage Patch – Oceanic Debris


An estuary seahorse in the polluted waters near Sumabawa Besar, Indonesia (National Geographic, 2017).

Scrolling through the internet, you’ve likely seen the photo of a tiny seahorse with its tail curled around a plastic cotton swab. The reality of this disheartening image highlights a larger issue; one linked to an area in the ocean called The Great Pacific Garbage Patch.

The Great Pacific Garbage Patch (GPGP) is a spiraling vortex of displaced rubbish located in the North Pacific Ocean. Debris is carried by currents that congregate in three parts of the ocean; the Western Garbage Patch, the Eastern Garbage Patch, and the Subtropical Convergence Zone. The actual measure of debris is impossible to determine, but estimates place the landmass of the GPGP at around 1.6 million square kilometers, ranging in depth from a few centimeters to several meters (NOAA, 2019). For comparison, that’s almost as large as Alberta, Saskatchewan, and Manitoba combined (World Atlas, 2019)!

Images illustrating location of the GPGP masses (NOAA, 2019).

The name ‘Great Pacific Garbage Patch’ conjures images of a floating landfill, however, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration claims the oceanic debris, “…is more like flecks of pepper floating throughout a bowl of soup”. This problem worsens below the surface as oceanographers and ecologist suggest that as much as 70% of debris sinks to the bottom of the ocean. The majority of the waste originates from North American and Asian fisheries, large cargo ships, and offshore oil rig operations (National Geographic, 2017). Consumed and discarded goods account for the rest and, even if you live on the prairies, could end up in the GPGP if incorrectly discarded – after all, all rivers lead to the sea. Sadly, because of the GPGP’s extensive magnitude and distance from all coastlines, no countries have taken full responsibility for the funding of its cleanup (NOAA, 2019).

Floating debris within the Eastern GPGP (NOAA, 2019).

One of the biggest problems floating among the garbage are microplastics. Microplastics are ubiquitous in the environment and their impact on aquatic life is actively researched. These are pieces of plastic smaller than 5 mm in size and are derived from washing fleece fabric, plastic microbeads in hygiene products, or incorrect waste disposal practices of toothbrushes, toys, disposable lighters, etc. Microplastics are found suspended throughout the water column at a depth of a few centimeters to several feet. Environmental and health problems have been linked to the photodegradation of these plastics as they leach out harmful colourants and chemicals into the water over time. (NOAA, 2019).

Plastic items collected during a cleanup of the Eastern GPGP (NOAA, 2019).

With so much trash swirling about the ocean, cleaning it all up seems like an impossible undertaking, but it’s not all doom and gloom! Private companies have begun with small cleanups of the GPGP, however, scientists are convinced that the most effective way to combat the ocean waste problem is prevention. As a consumer there are many ways you can help. Switch to reusable options and use less single-use disposable items including plastic lined coffee cups, disposable straws, takeout containers, and grocery bags. If you do use these items, make sure to dispose of them appropriately – toss them into a garbage receptacle, not the ditch. Be selective when purchasing items and choose products with reduced packaging. Help out your community by taking part in coastline, riverside, or community cleanups to reduce litter accidentally making its way into our waterways. Finally, support businesses that care about and support this cause or donate yourself!

__________________________

Sources

National Geographic. 2017. The heartbreaking reality of our ocean. Access at:https://www.nationalgeographic.com/photography/proof/2017/09/seahorse-ocean-pollution/. Access on: 8 January 2019.

NOAA. July 2019. How big is the great pacific garbage patch? Science vs myth. Accessed at: https://response.restoration.noaa.gov/about/media/how-big-great-pacific-garbage-patch-science-vs-myth.html. Accessed on: 7 January 2019.

World Atlas. 2019. The largest and smallest Canadian provinces/territories by area. Accessed at: https://www.worldatlas.com/articles/the-largest-and-smallest-canadian-provinces-territories-by-area.html. Accessed on: 7 January 2019.


What’s New in the Blue? Part 2: Black Plastics Edition

Regardless of the number on the plastic, post-consumer, dark coloured plastics – specifically black – will be removed from Loraas’ recycling program on January 1, 2020. Black plastic examples include coffee cup lids, takeout containers, protein powder jugs, etc. These dark coloured plastics are being used more readily in the products that we consume, so why are they being removed from recycling programs? To answer this question, we need to understand the recycling science behind plastics that are dark coloured.

The majority of black plastics that are sold to the consumer are a low-quality material and an inexpensive choice for manufacturer use. Unfortunately, these highly pigmented plastics are often already at the end of their life. In order for the products we buy to be recycled and made into new products, a manufacturer must be able to break them down and re-form them; however, each time this is done the pigment darkens and the bonds within the plastic are weakened (WRAP, 2019).

The majority of black plastic containers and packaging are dyed using carbon black pigments. Black plastics are difficult to sort for recycling manufacturers as most use advanced optical sorting systems to determine plastic type. Black or very dark pigments are difficult to identify by these systems and as a result, commonly end up as a residue waste unless they are hand sorted by the employees (WRAP, 2019). Even then, the majority of manufacturers won’t accept black plastics as the plastic’s quality is not certain.

So, what can you do to help? If you have a black plastic container, try reusing it for an alternative purpose. Rotisserie chicken containers, for example, can be upcycled into miniature greenhouses. Black disposable planters can be upcycled into miniature birdhouses. Sturdy black plastic takeout containers can be cleaned out and reused for leftovers. If there is no option for reuse, black plastic containers must be discarded as waste. For more interesting tips about black plastics, follow our social media @LoraasYXE.

Source

The Waste and Resources Action Programme. 2019. Accessed at: http://www.wrap.org.uk/content/recyclability-black-plastic-packaging-2. Accessed on: 12 December 2019.


What’s New in the Blue? Part 1: Coffee Cup Edition

For years our recycling programs have remained static, but recycling is changing. Commencing January 1st, 2019, polycoat paper and cardboard containers will be removed from Loraas’ blue cart program. These include paper coffee cups, cardboard ice cream containers, paper soft drink cups, and non-beverage aseptic containers for soups and sauces. Why?

Recyclables are a traded commodity, meaning products are only recyclable if a manufacturer can turn them into a new product. To physically recycle polycoat items, the paper or cardboard product must be turned back into a pulp. Disposable coffee cups are intended to be used once, therefore separating the plastic lining from the paper is nearly impossible.   

Canadians discard 14 billion disposable coffee cups in a single year (Zero Waste Canada, 2018). For hygienic reasons, coffee cups are often made out of virgin materials; real trees – not recycled paper. Unlike most recyclable paper items, polycoat cups and containers are not pure fibre and are lined in plastic, allowing them to hold liquids. To clarify, not all paper cups are lined with plastic and some are coated with wax. Determining which is which can be difficult. We advise treating them the same way – simply trash both!

So, what could you do now? You can reduce the amount of disposable coffee cups and paper takeout containers you use by opting for reusable alternatives. Sit down and enjoy your coffee rather than taking it out of the store, or bring your own thermos or mug. Or bring a reusable container with you for takeout foods. Follow us on social media @LoraasYXE for more great tips!

Source

Zero Waste Canada. 2018. Accessed at: https://zerowastecanada.ca/tag/coffee-cups/. Accessed on: 6 December 2019.


Holiday Season – Waste Guide

The holiday season is a time for giving thanks and partaking in fun winter activities. Unfortunately, some of these traditions create excess waste. Once the celebrations have ended, the tree is taken down, and you’re surrounded by a sea of wrapping paper and ribbons – Where do you put all your waste? No worries, Loraas is here to help! This is a simple list of common holiday waste and where they go:

Bubble Wrap & Styrofoam

Even with a ♻ , Styrofoam protection or stretchable product wrapping like bubble wrap should be tossed in the trash (after you’ve popped all the bubbles of course). For recycling, all plastics are required to have a #1 through #7 and the recycling symbol ♻.

There are a few specialized recycled programs for soft plastics; click here to find a location using the The Saskatchewan Waste Reduction Council search engine.

Festive Decor: Bulbs, Garland, & Ornaments

Although beautiful, these items don’t look as pretty when placed in your recycling cart. Festive decor is not allowed as it can break or wrap in fast moving machinery at the recycling facility.

Get crafty – Try converting these items into homemade wreaths instead. Or try re-homing them by using an online buy and sell.

Rigid Plastic Clamshell Packaging

Every parent’s nightmare – rigid plastic clamshell packaging.  This plastic shares the same name as the recyclable grocery store strawberry containers, except these ones can’t be recycled. The reason? Rigid clamshells usually do not have a recycling symbol and number or are a mixed material (plastic with paper, staples, or cardboard that cannot be disassembled) so toss them in the garbage.

Food Leftovers & Clementine Peelings

If you live outside of Saskatoon, you’re in luck! Food items (i.e. turkey bones, moldy bread, or 100% natural paper fiber item (i.e. paper napkin) can be composted using the Loraas green bin.

Don’t have one? Subscribe now by calling (306) 242-2300.

Gift Accessories: Ribbons, Bows, & Tinsel

Waste, waste and waste! All three of these items cannot be recycled.

If gently used, try reusing them year after year to add a little sparkle to your gifts or tree. Better yet, avoid these items completely.

Gift Bags

Gift bags are recyclable if they are 100% paper with paper handles. If the bag is shiny with a plastic coating or cannot rip, tossed it in the garbage. Ribbon handles should be removed though.

More often than not, all gift bags and boxes will have a recycling symbol on them, however, that only means your product contains recyclable materials not that it can be recycled over again.

Paper Greeting Cards

The test for most paper products: “If you can rip it, we can recycle it.” This excludes cards that are glittery or have lots of little embellishments; please toss these in the garbage.

Better yet, create a new tradition and see how many years you can reuse the same card before tossing it. It’s an amusing way to reuse a normally disposable item and it gives your family members a good chuckle.

Real & Artificial Trees

If your community has a composting facility, check to see if they offer a real tree program. Remember, trees must be free of tinsel and decor in order to be composted.

Artificial trees are made of metal and plastics, but they cannot be recycled. Try donating or selling your tree first, before opting to discard as waste. For end-of-life trees, you can dispose of them at the Loraas Landfill.

Please do not put real or artificial trees in your recycling, waste, or organics carts or bins as they will not be collected.

String Lighting

Never put string lights (a.k.a Christmas lights) and electrical cords in your recycle cart please. These are not recyclable and are incredibly dangerous to employees when they become wrapped up in the machinery.

To find a potential recycling option, click here.

Wrapping & Tissue Paper

Can it tear? Then it can be recycled! This excludes any decorative paper that is glittery, shiny, foil lined, or has a plastic coating. Reuse good quality paper if it cannot be recycled.

A little bit of tape is okay, but try your best to keep recyclables as pure as possible and remove it. All other recyclables should be placed loosely into your cart; don’t bag or box items. But, if the paper is ripped into small pieces, place small shreds into a clear/clear-coloured bag when recycling.


Safe Disposal Options: Ammunition & Firearms

We are in the midst of hunting season. Hunters – do you know what to do with spent bullet casings or out of commission firearms? Although these items are made of plastic and metals, never place them in the blue, black, or green carts or bins.

Ammunition is classified as an explosive and firearms are dangerous weapons – meaning they can’t be recycled. Plastics and metals are used to make these products, but are deemed non-reusable due to the gun powder. In addition, placing either of these items in your cart or bin is extremely dangerous for employees working in the waste and recycling industry; especially at recycling processing Materials Recovery Facilities (MRF). MRFs work together with local police detachments, and all ammunition, firearms, explosives, or dangerous weapons that are retrieved at our facility are handed over. Placing dangerous items in your waste, recycling, or organics cart is not an anonymous disposal technique and, if asked by the authorities, can be traced back to the owner of the cart.

Safe Disposal Option

Residents of Saskatchewan are encouraged to contact their nearest RCMP detachment, municipal police service, or conservation office to arrange the surrender of unwanted firearms, replica firearms, and ammunition. It is vital that you do not transport these items yourself as improper transportation presents a public safety risk and can result in potential criminal charges. Please call ahead to arrange a pick-up and a police or conservation officer will go to your residence to collect all surrendered items.


Changing Eco-Societal Views: Owning VS Buying

Consumerism is becoming a societal norm. Whether you purchase a product or lease it, it’s important to understand how these choices have an effect on our surroundings. When it comes to being eco-friendly, which option holds the least environmental disadvantages – Owning or Leasing?

Owning

Owning a product gives you the highest degree of control over how you manage your resources. You can use it as collateral, sell the product and recover some of the costs, or continue to use it while it remains productive. The greatest benefit with owning a product is that the consumer has the ability to make environmentally-friendly modifications. There are even some tax incentives to help consumers make these beneficial changes. However, with owning comes maintenance costs, product depreciation or appreciation, and consumer responsibility for its end-of-life disposal.

Leasing

As a consumer, leasing is a budget-friendly option for large ticket items such as equipment, vehicles, and apartments. A disadvantage or trade-off of leasing is the manufacturer or business still owns and controls the usage of that product or building. After years of push back from consumers, many companies and manufacturers are opting for recycling take-back programs or creating leasing options for unconventional items like cellphones, furniture, and even live chickens. Some building managers are even implementing ‘Green Leases’; an agreement between a landlord and tenant as to how a building is to be occupied, operated, and managed in a sustainable way. The greatest environmental benefit is that the responsibility for the product is shared. Consumers must ensure the product is returned back in a functioning state.Manufacturers are responsible for the reuse of products again and for finding a recycling or repurposing program before discarding of it as waste.

So which option is better for our planet? The answer is based on you and your personal situation. Make sure to do your research when you are considering purchasing a product or service. Then choose what is best suited for you, your values, and aligns with the most environmentally friendly option.


Clearly Different: Biodegradable VS Compostable Plastic

Many plastic packaging products boast environmentally-friendly benefits such as “biodegradable” and “compostable” capabilities. But, what exactly do these terms mean? In order to fully understand the impacts of our packaging materials on the environment, is it crucial to learn about their breakdown processes.

Biodegradable

The term ‘Biodegradable’ refers to the ability of materials to break down and return to natural components. In order for plastic products to qualify as biodegradable, they must breakdown quicker than their regular plastic counterparts. How do they do this? Simple. Chemicals are added into the plastics to assist in a quicker breakdown. By quicker, manufacturers mean less time than regular plastics – which can be a single year up to multiple decades depending on how the plastic is discarded.

So are biodegradable plastics better for the environment? Not completely. The ability of this plastic to biodegrade helps to reduce the buildup of waste at landfills which is great. However, there is one major disadvantage. During the breakdown process, biodegradable products will break down into smaller and smaller pieces over time (sometimes microplastics), but never fully disappear.

What to look for? As all labeling requirements differ, plastics that are biodegradable will be referred to as Polylactic Acid (PLA) or bioplastics. The biggest downfall of using biodegradable plastics is there are not many end-of-life options for them other than landfilling. Because of the way PLA plastics breakdown and their chemical additives, most local organics programs are unable to accept them. The same is true for recycling facilities, even when the plastic has a #7 PLA with a recycling symbol.

Compostable

The term ‘Compostable’ refers to the capability of a product to fully breaking down into a natural soil-like organic matter – providing the earth with beneficial nutrients. While biodegradable materials are designed to break down within landfills, compostable materials require specific conditions in order to breakdown properly.

So are compostable plastics better for the environment? Maybe, but it depends on how you discard of them. Compostable plastics are made from natural materials, like bamboo, flax, or corn. These plastics require UV sunlight rays, oxygen, and high temperatures to properly breakdown. Without these elements, especially when discarded at the landfill, compostable products will give off methane gas; a Greenhouse Gas. Unfortunately, at-home composting systems and most commercial composting systems have similar issues and usually cannot get hot enough to begin breaking them down either.

What to look for? In order for a product to be labeled ‘compostable’, they cannot contain toxins that could leach into the soil. Labeling standards differ around the world. Therefore, even if a plastic is labelled compostable, you should always double-check it will 100% break down in your style of composting system or local program. Still unsure? Have a local ‘Compost Coach’ help you out.


Part 2 – Worldwide Recycle: Why is it Changing?

In Part 1 of this blog, we learned about the reason why so many recycling programs have been discontinued or have restricted acceptable items. We also discussed the worldwide policies that drive North American recycling markets and why recyclable materials were being sent overseas in the first place. With a potential all-out ban from China in 2020 on solid waste imports, consumers should understand what they can do to protect their local recycling programs. So, here we go again! Part 2 of “Worldwide Recycling: Why is it Changing?”

In order for local recycling markets to succeed, businesses and consumers should look into Circular Economy models. This means purchasing back products made from recycled content or supporting programs that close the waste loop. This differs from the current linear approach of make, purchase, discard, and repeat. So what can we do to safeguard these markets and protect recycling programs long-term?

Step 1: Make sure that your recyclables are clean.

Give your recyclables a rinse or wipe before placing them in your recycling cart. If they cannot be cleaned, then please discard these items into your waste cart. Unfortunately, dirty recyclables cannot be made into new products or worst they contaminate clean recyclables, ruining them for a new life product.

Step 2: “Know before you throw.”

Placing items in your recycling cart that do not belong is called “Wishcycling.” Wishcycling increases contamination in the recycling stream and is dangerous to those working in the waste and recycling industry. Don’t know where to recycle an item or if an item can be placed into your blue cart? Saskatoon residents can “Ask the Wizard”, at www.saskatoon.ca/wastewizard. For Saskatchewan-wide recycling programs, use the Saskatchewan Waste Reduction search engine at www.swrc.ca.

Step 3: Understand the products that you purchase.

Recycling rules differ from place to place. Recycling programs are not stagnant and can change based on worldwide markets. It is vital to educate ourselves frequently about what can and cannot be recycled. Also, research what happens to the products you purchase if you discard them. To do this, you can ask manufacturers, “Can my product be recycled or is it supposed to be discarded as waste?” “Do you provide recycling take-back programs?” “What sustainable actions has your company taken to reduce waste?”

The most important thing to remember about recycling programs is, always reduce and reuse before you consider recycling anything. Not sure why? Come for a tour or book a Lunch & Learn session! We offer free MRF tours at our facility and private education sessions for your business or community group. For more information visit www.loraas.ca/tours. Want the latest information regarding recycling? Follow our social media @LoraasYXE for recycling tips, tricks, and more!


Part 1 – Worldwide Recycling: Why is it changing?

“Items are only recyclable if someone is willing to purchase and use your recycled material to be made into new, marketable products.” In recent years, the recycling market has become vastly more complicated, and consumers are now feeling the rippling negative effects. The domestic capacity and rules for all businesses that process and manufacture recyclable commodities have been restricted worldwide. This means a large number of Materials Recovery Facilities (MRF’s) no longer have overseas markets available that they once did and only a select few local North American markets available. With that being said, a large majority of collectors have chosen to restrict accepted materials in their recycling programs – or sadly close their doors completely.

China is the largest manufacturer of consumable products in the world. In the past, they’ve looked to North America for recycled fiber content and were, “…the primary overseas destination for recyclable commodities worldwide,” (ReMM Consulting Group, 2017) because their softwood forestry industry was not viable to keep up to consumer demand. Asian recycling manufacturers not only had the capacity to handle large outputs of recyclable materials from North America, they were willing to cut costs for transportation and processing; even less than processing in neighbouring provinces. But, due to increased contaminated recycling feedstocks, the Chinese government began redefining the standards for all recycling markets in terms of acceptable levels of contamination; with all other countries including Malaysia, Indonesia, and the Philippians following suit shortly afterward.  

Policy Changes

Operation Green Fence (2013)

 This policy was implemented in January of 2013, with a sole purpose of protecting Chinese manufacturers from low-quality recyclables, reduce contamination from imported recyclable materials, and to reclaim China’s clean reputation. This policy lowered the acceptable contamination levels in baled recyclable material from 7% to 1.5%.

National Sword (2017)

After Operation Green Fence was a failure, the Chinese government implemented the next policy in February 2017. National Sword nearly halted all recycling programs worldwide when it raised industry standards to only allow 0.5% contamination for all material types being sold for reuse. This policy was intended to reduce contamination further and aim for a circular-economy model. In a study by Mo et al., 2009, it was noted that the focus of this model would help to protect China’s recycling efforts as their own waste accumulation was problematic. China primarily faces domestically produced wastes which allowed them to implement a policy to cease smuggling of wastes into the country from external sources.

Import Ban (2017)

The most recent policy changes occurred on December 31, 2017. This policy allowed China to, “Ban the imports of four classes and 24 types of solid wastes including plastics from living sources, unsorted waste paper, and waste textile materials,” (ReMM Consulting Group, 2017). All changes to the recycling markets were made in an effort to address environmental concerns, worker safety, and quality of finished product.

China has implied that if their policies, bans, and additional efforts do not make a difference, a full ban on all solid waste imports could be coming as soon as 2020. As the demand for cleaner recyclable standards increased worldwide, so did processing costs for collection organizations, and manufactures; placing a heavy burden on our domestic markets. In order to react effectively, new domestic regulations, practices, and equipment must be at least equally as progressive.

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Sources

Business Casual. 2019. Here’s why China is killing the global recycling industry. Accessed at: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ibkc_JSKxw4. Accessed on: 30 September 2019.

Hopewell J., Dvorak R., and Kosior E. 2009. Plastics recycling: Challenges and opportunities. Accessed at:http://rstb.royalsocietypublishing.org/content/364/1526/2115.short. Accessed on: 1 August 2018.

Mo H., Wen Z., and Chen J. 2009. China’s recyclable resources recycling stem and policy: A case study in Suzhou. Accessed at: https://www-sciencedirect-com.cyber.usask.ca/science/article/pii/S0921344909000536. Accessed on: 24 July 2018.

ReMM Consulting Group. 2017. Exporting recyclable commodities overseas from canada. Accessed at: http://thecif.ca/wpcontent/uploads/2017/09/Freight-Export-ReMM.pdf. Accessed on: 2 August 2017.


The DL – What is ‘Downcycling’?

By now, we are all participating in using our blue carts to better the planet. Your recyclables are taken to a sorting facility where they are then shipped off to be made into new products and serve a new purpose. When products are melted down and re-recycled over and over they undergo a process called “Downcycling”. So what is it and why does it matter?

Downcycling is a term used in the recycling industry when the quality and strength of a product is reduced when making plastics, paper, and cardboard into new, marketable products. The more times you recycle something, the weaker the bonds become reducing the overall quality of the product.

While some items like household recyclable aluminum foil can repeatedly be reused, other recyclables will slowly breakdown each time they undergo the recycling process. This is most prominent when re-recycling plastics. The number on the bottom of your plastic recyclable containers is its resin identification code. This code will determine the type of plastic and give you a vague idea of how many times it can be recycled before it’s practically waste. For example, a plastic #1 PET pop bottle, on average, can be recycled 7 to 9 times before it must be discarded. During this re-recycling process, your bottle will likely be turned into a lower-quality plastic product like a fruit clamshell or fleece sweater after it has been processed by a manufacturer.

While the quality of the plastic is less than it was originally, it is important to recycle because it helps to lessen the need to use virgin, raw materials for new products and decreases environmental degradation of our landscapes during mining processes. If we really think about it though, all recycling is downcycling because materials cannot last forever.


Sea Change – From the Prairie to the Ocean

Our planet has an overwhelming waste problem on land and at sea. This is caused by the ‘overconsume then discard’ regime of convenience products, like plastic package wrapping and single-use disposables. By now we’ve all heard or seen visuals about marine debris and the damages it causes to our ecosystems and marine life. The Prairie Provinces are hundreds of miles from the coasts. That should mean our waste is “securely” landlocked and cannot contribute to this problem – Right? Not quite.

The answer is ‘potentially’, and directly depends on how the waste is discarded and what type of material the product is made out of. For ease, we will be focusing on plastics. It is estimated that 80% of the plastics in the ocean originates from land-based activities. So what can you do to help reduce the chance your waste will accidentally ending up finding its way to the ocean?

Step One: Prevention!

Careless and improper waste disposal is a contributor – illegal dumping immensely adds to the waste surplus in our seas. The first step in battling ocean debris is to try and prevent them from getting there in the first place. Our waste and recyclables can also be easily blown from truck boxes or escape from carts with lids open. Birds or high winds can take loose material to rivers, sewer systems, or directly into the ocean. The opportunities are endless because all waterways are connected to the ocean. So, never-ever litter regardless of its size; couch, chip bag, or cigarette butt!

Step Two: Follow the 5 R’s!


Refuse, reduce, reuse, rot, then recycle before considering to discard your waste. These steps are put into place to try and cut down on our consumption. However, we can easily refuse or reduce the number of products we purchase that cannot be reused, composted, or recycled that have been proven to be a part of this issue. For some problematic products, the government has already taken action. Luckily in Canada, a regulation was passed in June of 2017 banning the manufacture, import, and sale of toiletries, non-prescription drugs, and natural health products that contain microplastics smaller than 5mm. Plastics of these dimensions were proven to pass through water treatment facilities unscathed. Just to be safe try avoiding these products if you see the following ingredients listed: polyethylene, polypropylene, or polymethyl methacrylate.

Unfortunately, the list does not stop there and ocean waste can also be derived from synthetic clothing too. When washed, this fabric releases small plastic fibres down the drain. They are too small to be filtered out by wastewater facilities and end up being consumed by small marine species, eventually even ending up in our food chain. Overall, purchase wisely or finding alternatives like real wool or cotton because once you buy the product you become liable for responsibly disposing of it.

The bottom line is, regardless of where you are located, marine debris is a worldwide issue. We all have the power to make a difference. Impact starts with small steps and together we can “sea” a difference by creating a big wave of change!


Taking the “Pressure” out of Recycling Propane & Helium

It’s BBQ and party season! Once we’ve chowed down on our burgers and taken down all the party balloons, what comes next for our propane tanks and helium cylinders? The rules for recycling pressurized gases and liquids in tanks and cylinders is tough because these items are considered Household Hazardous Waste (HHW). Placing these items in your blue cart or bin and walking away is dangerous! So, what can you do to properly recycle these items? 

Option (1) Household Hazardous Waste Days

Please take these items to a specified Household Hazardous Waste Day if your community participates in them. Propane tanks and helium cylinders are most often accepted, but there are stipulations on the container size, original labeling, and if it still has leftover contents. We recommend storing your empty tanks and cylinders in a cool, well-ventilated location and dropping them off when an event is being hosted. Please call before you drop them off as each community/company has their own rules on allowable items. Contact your community to see when the next available event will be taking place. For Saskatoonians, click here!

Option (2) Take-back Programs, Reuse, and Rent

For propane tanks, the best option is to reuse and refill them. If your tank has expired, some vendors have take-back programs that will allow you to exchange the tank and fill a new one; fees may apply.

For helium cylinders, there are not as many options for recycling and most are not designed to be refilled after each use. Instead of using single-use tanks, there are some novelty stores that have refillable tanks for rent that you could use instead.

Option (3) Scrap Metals Dealers

Propane tanks and helium cylinders often have the recycling symbol ♻ on them. Why? It is the manufacturer’s way to inform consumers that the product contains recycled content; likely being made from recycled metal. Some metals recycling dealers will accept propane tanks if they are bled off or the valve has been removed. Each company/service will have their own rules to protect their employee’s safety so always ensure you always call and ask before you drop off.

With all three options above, please call and talk to a representative to understand the rules of their programs and if they are able to safely accept your item. The rule of thumb when it comes to recycling hazardous waste or any “waste” in general is, “Know before you throw.” This is important to keep all those working in the waste and recycling industry safe. Want to learn more? Follow us on social media @LoraasYXE for the most up to date information about HHW and reminders on HHW days.


Don’t Get Left Behind – “Why wasn’t my cart collected?”

Has this ever happened to you? You hear the big, shiny Loraas truck go by collecting all the carts in your neighbourhood. You go out to the street to collect your cart and bring it back onto your property and realize, “My cart wasn’t emptied!” Ugh! We understand this can be super frustrating. Like many other services available to the public, there are several rules that need to be followed for appropriate business exchanges.

Don’t want to get left behind again? Loraas is here to help. We’ve compiled a list of the most common mistakes on why your cart may not have been collected. Have you ever:

  • Placed your cart too close to obstructions?

The most common reason for a cart not being picked up is because it was not placed far enough from obstructions. In order to ensure we don’t damage other’s property, our collection trucks need at least 4 feet (1.2 meters) of space between the blue, black, or green carts or other objects like cars.

The Solution: If your cart is placed between two vehicles, simply roll it out further away from the curb so the mechanical arm can reach without damaging surrounding objects. Another solution is to place your cart on the opposite side of the street where there is more room. If these two solutions do not work, you may have to talk to your neighbours to ensure the carts are placed with enough accessible space to be collected and/or vehicles are parked a short distance away.

  • Unsure of what direction to face the cart?

Similar to the previous case, we require that you face the wheels of your cart towards the curb. This is important for the mechanical arm that empties your waste into a Loraas truck. If the cart is facing the wrong way, the trucks cannot grab onto the carts to collect. What about snow if there are snow banks blocking you from placing your cart at the curb? Simply place your cart as close to the curb as possible.

  • Filled your cart so full you could not close the lid?

The most common mistake is having carts with far too much contents leaving the lids wide open or partially open. We love to hear that you’re enjoying using your carts, however, our drivers have been advised not to pick-up these carts as they have a high risk for litter contamination.

The Solution: For recyclables, the easiest thing to resolve this issue is to flatten or break down large cardboard and plastics #1 to #7 to 2ft x 2ft (60cm x 60cm).  Another option is to take excess recycling to one of the many drop-off depots including Loraas’ public drop-off located at 1902 1st Avenue North; open 24/7 to the public.

For overflowing garbage, you may have to re-evaluate if that “garbage” can be recycled or diverted from the landfill instead of being thrown away. Visit www.swrc.ca to see different recycling or diversion programs in your community.

  • Accidentally mixed up your pickup day?

Sometimes pickup schedules or frequency change throughout the year. It could be possible you placed your cart out on the wrong day or put the wrong cart out for collection.

The Solution: Double check your pickup schedule. For rural Loraas customers, visit our website and print off your community’s Collection Calendar or call our Client Service number at (306) 242-2300. If you’re a City of Saskatoon resident, you can download the electronic collection calendar at www.saskatoon.ca/recycle or get text reminders using their handy waste app. Lastly, create simple reminder prompts. Place a coloured dot on your calendar to represent specific collection days.

  • Do you live at the end of a cul-de-sac?

If yes, there are different rules for your curbside pickup. All carts are to be placed 16 feet (4.8 meters) from the furthest endpoint of the cul-de-sac so vehicles, including our trucks, have enough room to continue driving. Carts are to be placed in a straight line all facing the same direction and placed at least 4 feet (1.2 meters) apart.

The Solution: Get neighbourly! By that, we mean simply talking to your neighbours to confirm everyone understands and participates so you don’t get missed.

  • Slept in past 7:00 AM and placed your cart out at a different time in the morning?

Residential curbside pickup commences at 7:00 A.M. sharp. Please have your cart at the curb by this time regardless of if your driver typically comes at different times throughout the day. Pickup times may vary depending on different drivers or how many drivers are available that day. Reminder to pull your cart back onto your property by 7:00 PM.

The Solution: If early mornings are problematic, place your cart at the curb late evening to avoid being missed. Going on a holiday? Ask your friendly neighbour to give you assistance, take your waste to the landfill, or take organics to a drop-off depot before you jet off.

  • Where items left in your cart after pickup?

We love all of our avid recyclers and promote using the cart as much as possible. However, during certain times of the year, you may have excess recyclables (or other waste). Packing too many items in your cart may make it difficult to empty it completely. Or if items are still wet from rinsing, they could freeze to the sides of the cart during cold weather.

The Solution: Instead of using your foot to pack as much into the carts as possible, we welcome you to use the many free recycling depots across the City. Also, allow your recyclables to fully dry before placing them into the cart.

  • Placed an item in your blue or green carts, but were not 100% sure it belonged?

Lots of residents are what we like to call “Wish-cyclers”.  Not all recyclables or items with the recycling symbol are accepted in our curbside program. The same goes with items labeled organic, biodegradable, and compostable. If too many non-acceptable items, especially hazardous or items with warning labels are identified in your cart, our drivers are advised not to pick them up to protect workers in the waste and recycling industry.

The Solution: Give us a call. Drivers have likely advised our customer care team why your cart was not collected. Our knowledgable team will able to assist you or give you further education. Still unsure? Visit the ‘What can be recycled?’ section of the website to understand how to use the programs correctly, download and print off help guidelines, or watch our simple videos. Or use one of the recycling search engines online, like SWRC or the Waste Wizard to, “…know before your throw!”

Loraas’ disposal and waste diversion programs are incredibly efficient processes, but only if used correctly. We are continually looking towards creating a cleaner and better future for the next generations and diverting unnecessary or recyclable waste from our landfills. For the most up to date information, make sure to follow our social media @LoraasYXE for messaging about storms, missed areas, cart tips, and more. Thank you for your continued participation and with this new information, you’ll never be left behind again!


pLASTic 2

Following our first pLASTic blog, we thought it would be appropriate to dive back into the complicated world of plastic recycling after the abundance of great questions we received. Our first blog explained how plastics were created, why the use of plastics has exploded over the past 60 years, the difficulties with recycling plastics using our current technology, and a few ways to help you understand plastics in general. It’s true, out of the five acceptable items we can accept at Loraas Recycle, plastics are the most complicated material for anyone to understand how to recycle properly. We explained in the first blog that, “…there is no simple, “Plastics Recycling Rule”. Curbside recycling programs do accept most plastics numbered 1 thru 7. Plastics must be separated correctly into their numbered categories before they can be made into new products as different types of plastic are not compatible with one another.” Here we go again- pLASTic 2.

The question we received the most was, “Why do plastics need to be separated into different numbered categories when being recycled?” The answer is a complicated one so we have broken it down into two parts:

Part 1

Quite simply, the number on the plastics indicates the resin identification code. For example, #1 plastics are Polyethylene terephthalate (PET or PETE) and are the most common thermoplastic polymer resin of the polyester family. This type of plastic can be made into pop bottles or fibers for clothing or rope. The #2 plastics are High-density polyethylene (HDPE) and are the strongest and most versatile within the #1 thru #7’s we’ve mentioned. HDPE #2 plastic can be made into many different products from milk jugs to plastic lumber to underground pipes. For a full list of #1 thru #7 plastic details, click here to visit our website and view the downloadable document.

Part 2

As mentioned above, each plastic has a different chemical mixture. Meaning that when they are sent to manufacturers to be made into new products, the plastics will all have different melting points. For simplicity, this process is similar to a baking a cake. If the contents in the bowl are not mixed properly or you accidentally add the wrong ingredient, it will result in a foul-tasting cake or chunks of unmixed salt in your end masterpiece. To recycle plastic, secondary manufacturers will sort, shred, and wash the plastics before they are compacted and sent to their final destination to be made into a new product. These bales will be broken apart and placed into a melting bath. The melting bath can extract some contaminates, but not all. If there are too many different types of plastic, like #1 PET mixed into a #2 HDPE plastic melting-bath, the end result will have chunks of solidified plastics within the liquid plastic. When the plastics mixture is cooled in a mold, the solidified pieces will weaken the overall design or cause the end product to be categorized as low-quality.

Contamination of plastics can occur even in small quantities, like a #2 bottle cap or pump on top of a #1 pop or soap bottle. One cap may not cause an issue, but recycling facilities often see thousands coming through on a daily basis. Hence why most recycling sorting facilities will not accept items smaller than a playing card box and plastics without resin ID number codes. Small plastics are sent to landfills rather than in a mixture with larger plastics; ensuring the plastic will be made into new products by the purchasing manufacturers. By excluding small plastics, it saves the quality of the recycled plastics as some manufacturers can’t or won’t chance using recycled plastics. Why? If the recycled plastic is not 100% pure, it will be considered contaminated by the manufacturer as there is a greater potential for their product or packaging to break during transportation. Simply put, low-quality recycled plastic means decreased profits and shortened lifespans.

Looking for more help with understanding how to recycle plastics? Or tips on how to reduce? If you haven’t already, go read the first pLASTic blog. Still unsure about something? Feel free to comment or direct message on our social media pages @LoraasYXE.  


Sustainable Diets

Adopting a zero-waste lifestyle is another way citizens can help out Mother Nature. The zero-waste lifestyle is a philosophy that encourages the redesign of resource lifecycles on a personal level by reusing or rethinking about the products we consume. The goal of this lifestyle is to ultimately decrease the amount of waste going to landfills, incinerators, or to non-intended areas like the rivers and oceans. This process is designed to mimic nature and the way resources are naturally cycled.

Question. Have you ever wondered if going zero-waste is actually sustainable? The zero-waste lifestyle helps individuals live more sustainably by reducing their overall waste outputs. However, there are some important areas of sustainability that are missed in the zero-waste model; specifically in terms of our diets. A sustainable food system is a collaborative network that combinations specific components in order to enhance a community’s environmental, economic, and social well-being. Here are three simple ways you can have a sustainable diet while going zero-waste too!

1. Location, Location Location!

Where were your food products produced? Sustainable diets begin with supporting the local economy. This is important as it reduces your carbon footprint and keeps the local economy strong by financially supporting small grocers, family farms, and orchards. The great part about the zero-waste lifestyle is that this philosophy is known worldwide and products are manufactured all across the globe to support it. With the worldwide zero-waste movement, finding local producers and products to support sustainability and this lifestyle is simple. Local farmer’s markets are a great example.

2. How’s it “growing”?

How was your food grown? Certain farming practices are known to be sustainable while benefiting the soils, flora, and fauna around them. A rule of thumb to sustainable diets is to eat locally, seasonally, and preserve your harvest. Another eco-friendly option is to choose organic foods. Organically grown produce has higher nutritional value and is created without the use of pesticides and chemicals. However, organic certification is complicated. For starters, the certification process is costly and doesn’t cover monoculture farms. So even without certification, your food products may still have been grown in a way that protects the ecosystem and is healthy for you. If you’re not sure, the best thing to do is contact your local growers. Another solution is to grow it yourself. Gardening can be relaxing and rewarding. Do your research to find a community garden in your area or plant indoor herb plant garden. For example, the most eco-friendly foods include garden-grown peas, onions, and beans; all of which are easily grown in your own backyard!

3. Good things come in small packages.

Does the food you buy need all that packaging? Focus on food that has reduced packaging. With the zero-waste momentum, there are many sustainable options available at grocery or bulk stores that allow consumers to buy little to no packaging at all. Plus, bringing your own reusable bag helps with this overall mission. Then there is the “convenience-packaging” options. Just say no to these products as they are usually overpriced and have unnecessary packaging. For example, peeled eggs on a Styrofoam tray covered in plastic wrap. All we have to say is – why? Most fruits and vegetables come with barriers, like shells and peels, to protect them naturally. It’s important to remember when purchasing products, what will happen to each component at their end-of-life. Purchase smart and sustainable!  

Have you adopted a waste-free or sustainable lifestyle? We are looking for stories to inspire others to join the momentum. Let us know! Send us a direct message on our social media @LoraasYXE. We are also hosting an Earth Day giveaway contest that will help with your sustainable and zero-waste goals. On our social media from April 15th, 2019 until April 21st, 2019. Contest winners will be chosen on April 22nd, 2019. For contest details visit our Facebook, Twitter, or Instagram!


Xeriscaping – Smart Gardening

Reduction is the best way to start a zero-waste lifestyle. As water is a valuable resource, reducing our H20 usage is the simplest way to start. Around our homes the areas that use the most water include the laundry, washrooms, and outdoor gardens. It’s easy to turn off a tap or take shorter showers, however when your living, growing plants require a drink, the situation becomes difficult. The solution – Xeriscaping.

The word xeriscape was first coined by Denver Water in 1981 and is derived from the Greek word xeros meaning dry. But, why is xeriscaping the best choice? “Dry landscaping” involves selecting plants that are native to the area you live, that are suited to low moisture conditions, and mimics the natural environment. Loraas is here to provide you with three steps to help you succeed:

  • What’s the plan?

The first essential step to xeriscaping is pre-planning as it allows you to understand the landscape you are working with and any restrictions. You must first take into consideration the elements that are already involved, including existing trees and plants, solid immovable structures including patios or sidewalks, shade or sun areas, and natural landscape slopes for water drainage.

  • Don’t spoil the soil!

Understanding the qualities of your soil will help in the vegetation decision process and is essential to their survival. Remember, your plant choice should either be suited for the soil type you currently have or amended to fit their needs. If soil is lacking nutrients, adding organic compost or mulch (bark chips), to your landscape is a great fix. Both help your soil conserve water and add nutrients when they break down. The best part about mulch is it helps lessen weeds, which means you can spend more time enjoying your garden rather than weeding it. However, some low-water vegetation or succulents prefers no soil additives and very porous gravel. In these cases inorganic mulch, such as rock slabs or gravel, is acceptable too. To ensure the vegetation you decide on will not only thrive in the spot they will be planted and adapt or grow in your climate, always do your research. Native plants have a secondary advantage as they provide suitable foraging and nesting sites for native animals and increase the overall landscape health. Some examples of native Saskatchewan vegetation include Saskatoon berry, dogwood, willow, sage, crocus, gaillardia, wild columbine, and aster.

  • Water, water everywhere and not a drop to drink…

Water wisely, as all plants have different individual needs in order to flourish. Consider planting vegetation with similar water requirements together in areas of natural drainage or flow. If an irrigation system is required, consider installing an underground irrigation system or water turf areas separately from other plants. Remember, when watering your plants keep the nozzle low to reduce windblown spray and do not water during peak heat conditions to reduce evaporation (early mornings and late evenings work best). As a tip, water deep and infrequently to develop deep root systems; especially when the plant is establishing itself.

Water reduction is a great way to begin the zero-waste lifestyle.  As a bonus gardening is a great way to spend time with family and relax. By switching to xeriscaping, you can start a green lifestyle and contribute to a healthier planet. Have you already tried xeriscaping? Show us a photo on social media @LoraasYXE on Facebook, Instagram, or Twitter. Your journey may be an inspiration step for others too!

Sources

Greener Plants. 2019. 7 steps to xeriscaping. Accessed at: http://www.greenerplants.com/Xeriscaping.html. Accessed on: 21 February 2019.

Land Stewardship Centre. 2019. Xeriscaping. Accessed at: http://www.landstewardship.org/xeriscaping/. Accessed on: 21 February 2019.

University of Saskatchewan. 2018. Creating biodiversity in your yard. Accessed at: https://gardening.usask.ca/articles-how-to/creating-biodiversity-in-your-yard.php. Accessed on: 22 February 2019.


Greenwashing: Going Green Isn’t Always Easy

Lights, camera, action! The Hollywood scene often portrays futuristic or scary scenarios of brainwashing that illustrate severe forms of social influence causing changes to a person’s perception without their consent or awareness. Phew, good thing most of these situations are invented for entertainment and don’t really happen in real life – right? You sit back on the couch with a bowl of popcorn thinking, “How could anyone be so easily fooled?” Unbeknownst to you, these Hollywood fantasies may not be as farfetched as we think. A simple form of brainwashing may be occurring right under your nose. Are you being “greenwashed”? Duh-duh-duh!

Greenwashing is a marketing tactic that portrays a product as “environmentally-safe” or “eco-friendly” when in reality it may not be. Greenwashing allows unsubstantiated or misleading claims about the environmental benefits of a product, service, or technology. Sometimes these labels are in fact true, however, only tell a fraction of the truth. You start contemplating this greenwashing concept. “Are all the eco-terms on my products true or am I being bamboozled?”  

Greenwashing techniques may not always be done maliciously and manufacturers are not required to fully disclose the exact details of how much of their product contains recycled content or which components in the box labelled organic are in fact certified organic. Below are the three most common misconceptions when it comes to eco-terms on products:

#1 – The Recycling Mobius ♺

Recycling is great and a way for consumers to reduce extracting virgin natural resources for new products and materials going to landfill. On the plastic packaging of the popcorn bag, you find a recycling symbol without a number. Without further elaboration, the consumer may be confused as to what the “recyclable” labeling refers to; the plastic packaging, popcorn bag, or the kernels of corn themselves. The recycling mobius on your products indicates that the product contains recyclable materials, not that the product can be recycled again. Without labeling restrictions, if a product contains as little as 2% recycled content it can still be labeled with the recycling mobius or have the “made from recycled content” label. Technically the company is not false advertising because there is a small amount, just less than the consumer thinks. The best option as a consumer is to look for products made from “100% recycled materials”.

#2 – Organic

Scientific studies have identified that organic foods have increased nutrients compared to their conventionally-grown counterparts. On the popcorn bag, you see the word “organic”. Great, this must mean the corn kernels are grown without chemicals! Well – not necessarily. The term “organic” refers to the way agricultural products are grown and processed. While the regulations vary, organic crops must be grown without the use of synthetic pesticides, GMOs, or petroleum or sludge fertilizers. This does not mean that crops are 100% chemical free as farmers are allowed to spray crops with “organic approved” chemicals. The “Organic” product label can only go on products that meet the federal government’s organic standard. However, the certification process is extensive and complex. Therefore, just because a label says, “made with organic ingredients” or “all-natural” does not mean the product qualifies as “Certified Organic”, so be sure to look beyond the hype.

#3 – Green

“Green” is an umbrella term that refers to products, services, or practices that allow for economic development while conserving our resources for future generations. The last item on your lap is the popcorn bowl. You turn over it over and there it is stamped on the bottom. What a shocker! The greatest downfall about the term “green” is its vagueness and very few products are actually 100% green “eco-friendly” or “all-natural”. This is because product development will always have some impact on the surrounding environment, but green labeling is allowed depending on the degree of the overall impact. Nevertheless, green products have less of an environmental or human impact than their traditional counterparts. Green products are usually energy efficient, free of ozone depleting chemicals or toxins, often created from recycled or sustainably sourced content, or created locally.

The world around us may appear to be healthy, but as a whole it is hurting from our misuse of products and improper disposal techniques. To combat this issue, the best solution is to educate ourselves about the products that we buy and the terms associated with them. If you don’t like what a product is made out of, write to your manufacturer and ask for alternative solutions. Don’t understand the terms on your products? Call and ask us. Don’t be greenwashed! Know the difference and understand the products you purchase.


Loraas Earth Day 2019 Poster Contest!

FREE STUDENT CONTEST ALERT!!!

April is approaching us very quickly and you all know what this means – Earth Day 2019! Loraas Recycle is a huge supporter of Earth Day, which is celebrated on April 22nd. In order to keep the celebration going and raise awareness on environmental topics, we will be hosting our annual Student Earth Day 2019 Poster Contest. This contest is available for all Saskatoon students Grade 3 to Grade 8 within the SPSD and GCSD (home-based education too!).  This year’s theme is, “Turn your SPOIL, into SOIL!”

Official Poster with rules and contest details can be found here.

Don’t worry teachers we didn’t forget about you! During April 15th until 22nd Loraas will be celebrating Earth Week on our social media channels. Each day we will feature different environmental topics, so follow along to learn how each one of us can be an Earth Hero too! To boot, we will be having a social media giveaway just for adults. So join us on Facebook and Instagram to potentially win some sweet eco-swag!


Going Green – Business Edition

It’s inevitable, when a business chooses eco-friendly and sustainable options it benefits the community and the environment. When businesses are confronted on “why” they haven’t chosen a green path, the most common reasons include thinking that green-solutions are a short-term trend, expensive upfront investments, and the belief their business is too small to make a significant worldwide difference. If your company hasn’t taken the steps towards creating an environment or sustainability plan, you may be missing out. No worries, Loraas is here to illustrate three reasons why going green is “good business”.

Reason #1: Giving your business a “brand” new perspective.

Did you know that choosing green alternatives can assist your company’s bottom line? Going green means staying competitive and competitive businesses are 50% more likely to succeed. In a world where many people have already taken the vow to zero-waste lifestyles or healthier eco-alternatives, giving your customers green solutions or identifying as a green company may help bring in new clients by attracting or retaining customers with the same values.

Reason #2: Going green saves your business the “green”.

As a business owner, it’s wise to look for ways to minimize your taxes or save money. Creating green strategies, like an environmental or sustainability policy, can lead to tax credits or deductions. The Canadian government offers businesses tax credits for using renewable energy systems including wind, solar, or geothermal power; covering up to 30% of the cost for an installed system. The upfront costs of renewable energy can be daunting, however they deliver savings in the future. Each province offers different incentives and grants, so do your research to find the best solution for your business.

Reason #3: Going green is simply a “bright” idea for your business.

Quite simply, changing to energy-efficient alternatives and decreasing the use of certain office supplies can help cut down your monthly operational costs. Cha-ching! Look for certified low-energy options for new appliances, equipment, or tools. Don’t know what to look for? Simply visit the website, EcoLabel, as it is a great resource and contains an index of Canadian certified labels and eco-approved companies. Switching from incandescent bulbs to CFL lightning can save companies up to 70% on their lighting costs. It’s simply a bright idea! Giving customers eco-friendly options such as e-bills or converting to paperless transactions are simple ways to cut down on paper use. Making a small switch means wasting less and providing a big “payday” in the long run.  

There are many reasons why going green is a great practice and strategy for businesses. We only illustrated a few, however, small actions do make a difference. Combined with other businesses and individuals on the same journey, over time this will contribute to a healthier planet and benefit us all. Small steps towards the betterment of our planet make big leaps if we all try together. So what are you waiting for? Join the green momentum today!

Sources

EcoLabel. 2019. Ecolabel index. Accessed at: http://www.ecolabelindex.com/. Accessed on: 19 February 2019.

Green Geeks. 2017. Compelling reasons why your business should go green now. Accessed at: https://www.greengeeks.com/blog/2015/10/27/7-compelling-reasons-why-your-business-should-be-going-green-now/. Accessed on: 15 February 2019.