Unravelling the Truth behind Textile Waste

Unravelling the Truth behind Textile Waste

The average lifespan of a t-shirt is three years. After this point, if you have not donated or reused that once-beloved t-shirt, it ends up going to the landfill. Over 70% of the world’s population uses secondhand clothing. North American’s buy five times the amount of clothing we did a mere twenty-five years ago. Unfortunately, this abundance of clothing adds up and we throw away 85% of the garments we purchase; totaling a whopping 12 million tonnes of textile waste annually. Natural fibers used for clothing take hundreds of years to decompose at a landfill. Due to anaerobic conditions, these fibers give off methane gas contributing to global warming. Worse yet, synthetic textiles are designed to withstand decomposition completely.

Let’s take a look at the process of making textiles in the terms of environmental impacts. During the entirety of textile manufacturing and consumption, the main impacts to the environment are the use of natural resources, energy, and water.  The use of these resources depends on fabric type and multiple synthetic and natural chemicals. Stage one of textile manufacturing is Production Phase. For example, during the creation of polyester textiles over 70% of the energy used to create the finished product occurs during the production stage alone. Polyester is made from non-renewable petroleum which releases greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions during manufacturing. Worldwide the production of textiles uses over 354 million gallons of water daily. It is a known fact that cotton is amongst the highest water-intensive agricultural crop. Nevertheless, cotton remains the most in-demand textile by clothing producers to date. Stage two is the Printing and Design Phase. Digital printers or screen printing use excessive energy and heat to adhere images onto their garments. Over the years, advanced technology has allowed textile manufactures to decrease water usage during this stage by moving from water-based dyes to air-dried dye. Once the garment is finished, we move onto stage three which is the Use or Consumerism Phase. Garments are shipped worldwide which adds to the total of fossil fuels used and GHG emissions released overall. Once in the hands of the consumer, our natural resource, energy, and water consumption never ceases. For example, once the consumer buys the garment the impacts to the environment during the Use Phase is the highest due to the consumer washing, drying, and ironing the article of clothing multiple times over its lifespan.

How can you help reduce textile waste from accumulating at the landfill? The first step is to curb your desire for the latest fashion trends. New fashions come out weekly in the stores; this is done on purpose to create a demand. Trying to keep up to date with the fashion magazines is an endless battle. Loraas recommends finding your own style using items already in your closet. This can be a struggle as your current garments may not be the newest trend, however, there are now multiple fashion assistant apps you can download for free using items already in your possession. If you desire a change or refuse to wear the same article of clothing repetitively, the second step is to try clothing swaps. Borrowing clothing or purchasing secondhand not only saves your hard-earned dollars, it also helps the environment by reducing virgin textile production. It’s not a new item, yet, it is new to you! What if your clothing item is too worn for wear? Good news!  There are multiple textile recovery and recycling companies across Canada that will accept your clothing. Step three is to do your research and donate textile waste today. A friendly reminder that textiles and used garments cannot be placed into your Loraas blue curbside recycling cart. One fiber at a time we unravel the current textile problem together!

‘Wish-Cycling’ IS NOT ‘Recycling’. Stop this trend!

‘Wish-Cycling’ is not ‘Recycling’: Stop this trend!

‘Wish-cycling’ is a potentially dangerous trend that occurs when members of the public interested in protecting our environment attempt to recycling non-recyclable items. Many of us have encountered a situation where we are unsure whether the item in our hand is recyclable or not. The curbside program was mainly designed for consumer packaging and paper. Saskatchewan residents typically do an excellent job at recycling the basics such as paper and cardboard as well as aluminum and tin cans. However, the problem with ‘wish-cycling’ occurs when items outside of this scope such as plastic straws, stuffed toys, electrical cords and car seats are placed into the recycling carts in “hopes” they will be recycled instead of sending them to a landfill. After all, Timmy the Teddy Bear is recyclable – isn’t he?

Unbeknownst to the recycler, that non-recyclable item just placed into the blue cart causes recycling facilities major issues including contamination of clean recyclables, damages machines, and causes worker safety concerns. When non-approved materials travel across the conveyor line they are pulled off and sent to the landfill. On occasion, non-recyclable items will get missed along the sorting line, getting baled with other materials before being shipped to paper mills or plastics manufacturers. At arrival, bales are inspected and non-approved items are discarded by employees or machinery. By placing non-recyclable items into your blue recycling cart it wastes time, money, energy, and causes more waste overall. Why? Those plastic straws are not compatible with other recyclable plastics because they do not have a #1 to #7 recycling triangle on them and are therefore garbage. Gently used plush toys can be donated instead of abandoning them next to your curbside cart. Electrical cords and car seats contain more than one type of recyclable material. Both are required to be sent away to specialized companies that will disassemble these products to ensure all components get recycled properly. Due to many constraints, such items cannot be properly recycled at a Materials Recovery Facility (MRF) and are thus discarded as garbage.

The Loraas Recycle MRF utilizes highly trained individuals and a network of machines to sort through loose items placed into blue carts and bins. Often the workers contend with large wooden pallets, broken toys, propane tanks, and used syringes. These items drastically slow down processing or, in the case of some fire extinguishers, halt operations completely. Furthermore, operation productivity is diminished and non-recyclable items cause dangers to a facility’s employees as well. Propane tanks are recyclable at approved facilities but they are not accepted for the City of Saskatoon‘s curbside recycling program. When Loraas workers remove the tank from a moving conveyor belt it can put them at risk for getting poked in the hand or stomach by a used syringe or hit by large, fast-moving cardboard box. Please don’t let your innocent actions put others at risk. This is where public information campaigns can combat such ‘wish-cycling’.

Materials that are not approved for recycling or compost programs belong in the garbage. There are four waste streams, which include recycling, landfill, organics, and waste diversion and these function best when everyone uses them correctly. So what can you do to help stop the trend of ‘wish-cycling’? First, Loraas recommends finding out what is approved for your recycling and composting programs. You can do this by visiting your municipalities’ local website or our “What Can Be Recycled?” webpage for more information. If you are not sure whether an item is recyclable, use local recycling search engines (like www.swrc.ca) to look it up before placing it in the cart. In most cases, you may be able to divert that “waste” instead of sending it to a landfill; taking up valuable space. Second, you can improve your home habits by having the correct waste carts placed in strategic places around your house. For example, you could place an organics cart near your kitchen or a recycling bin in your office. If we work together and “Think Smart, Recycle Smart,” we can combat ‘wish-cycling’ together!





How clean is Clean? – Loraas “3 Rinse Hints”

How clean is CLEAN?

For years we have been told by recycling programs to, “Ensure your recyclables are CLEAN.” The term ‘Clean’ is a difficult one to determine because everyone has a different perception of clean. So the real question becomes, “How clean is CLEAN”?

Before we begin, we must understand the WHY. “Why must our recyclables be clean?” There are many reasons, but it ultimately comes down to one simple factor. In order for your recyclables to be made into a new marketable product, someone has to be willing to buy the compacted bales of recyclables and remake them into something new. Once the bale has reached its final destination, it will be broken apart and the recyclables will be inspected. In most cases, if the product is too contaminated with moldy food residues or heavily soiled with oils or liquids, manufacturers will reject the material or worst send it to the landfill. Valuable time and energy have been placed into a product that is no longer deemed ‘valuable’ all due to contamination.

In order for your recyclables to end up in the correct place, we ask citizens to do their best to clean containers and bottles as to not contaminate other recyclable material. This includes rinsing out milk jugs and emptying the contents of that yogurt container. So, “How clean is CLEAN?” The answer to the question is, “Use your own discretion and try your best to get those containers as clean as you can.” For example, if you deem the top portion of your pizza box has been too soiled with oil, rip it off and place it into your compost or waste bin and place the rest of the clean cardboard in the recycle bin. If we all put in a little effort, we can work towards eliminating recyclables from getting a life sentence at the landfill.

Over the years, this rinsing requests has illustrated to be difficult to our society. We understand that water is a valuable resource for all communities. Loraas is here to help give you valuable tips on how to clean your recyclables by following the “Loraas 3 Rinse Hints”:

  1. Rinse. Rinsing your containers is by far the best solution in combating contamination within the recycling stream. Use a small amount of water to ensure your recyclables are clean of unwanted residues. Add water, swirl or shake, and then dispose of this liquid mixture in the correct waste place. For tough residues, such as liquid detergent in laundry jugs, leaving a small amount of suds after rinsing a few times is okay. If your best scrubbing efforts still will not remove that baked-on food residue from disposable aluminum pans or trays, we recommend removing the portions that will never meet your standards of clean and discarding them. This way we can ensure companies who buy the product will indeed recycle your trays instead of trash the whole tray due to a small section with contamination.
  2. Wipe. The second best solution is to wipe out your containers using a reusable or disposable towel. This will not remove all of the unwanted contents however, it may prevent those materials from escaping during the recycling process; soiling clean paper or cardboard.
  3. Shake. For those moments you cannot get to a faucet or paper towel dispenser, the last option is to shake out the contents. This works the best for liquids. For example, before you place that pop bottle into the recycle bin give it a shake over your compost bin to remove any excess liquids that may have leaked onto other clean single-stream recyclables in the bin.

Why did my Loraas bin not get picked up?

Ever wonder why you pay for a Loraas bin and it doesn’t get picked up? Like many other services available to the public, there are several rules that need to be followed for appropriate business exchanges. There are typically four reasons for why people’s bins do not get picked up by a Loraas truck. Below are some of the most common reasons:


  1. Too Close to Obstructions

The most common reason for a bin not being picked up is because it was not placed far enough from obstructions. Recycling trucks from Loraas use mechanical arms that need at least 4 feet (1.2 meters) of space between the blue bin and objects like cars or other bins. If your bin is not placed with enough accessible space our trucks could cause damage to surrounding objects.

Solution: If your bin is placed between two vehicles, simply pull the bin further away from the curb so the mechanical arm will reach without damaging vehicles. Another solution is to place your bin on the opposite side of the street where there is more room. Work with your neighbours to ensure the bins are placed 4 feet apart and/or vehicles are parked 4 feet away from your cart.

  1. Cart Wheels Towards the Curb

Similar to the previous case, we require that you have the wheels of your bin facing the curb. This is once again important for the mechanical arm that empties your waste into a Loraas truck. If the bin is facing the wrong way the contents in your bin cannot be emptied unless our drivers have time to physically turn the bin around.

  1. Overfilling

Many blue bins have far too much contents to be picked up. Materials are piled up or packed in the bin to the point where the lid cannot close. Our drivers have been advised not to pick-up these bins as they have a high risk for litter contamination by falling out of the bin during unloading. Our drivers have tight schedules to meet and closed lids allow them to complete their job quickly and easily.

Solution: For recyclables, the easiest thing to do for this issue is to flatten or break down large recyclables until the lid will close. Cardboard and large plastics #1 to #7 should be reduced to 2ft x 2ft (60cm x 60cm).  Another option is to take larger items to recycling depots such as our public bins on 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 instead of thrown away. Please visit the “Facility” section  on our website for additional advice or resources.

  1. Wrong Pickup Day

Sometimes pickup schedules change throughout the year. Double check your schedule by going to the ‘Residential’ portion of our website or call our Client Service number at (306) 242-2300. Make sure you save important dates to your calendar.

  1. Incorrect Cul-de-sac Placement

If you live at the end of a cul-de-sac, Loraas has different rules for your curbside pickup. Bins are to be placed 16 feet (4.8 meters) from the furthest end point of the cul-de-sac so that vehicles have enough room to continue driving. Bins are to be placed in a straight line all facing the same direction. Bins must be placed at least 4 feet (1.2 meters) apart. Talk to your neighbours to confirm everyone understands and participates.

  1. Late Bin Placement

Residential curbside pickup commences at 7:00 A.M. sharp. Please have your bin at the curb by this time.

Solution: If early mornings are problematic, place your bin at the curb late evening to avoid being missed.

  1. Cart Contains Program Prohibited Items

Lots of Saskatoon residents are “Wish-cyclers”.  Not all recyclables are accepted in our curbside program. If too many non-recyclable items or hazardous items are identified in your bin, our drivers are advised not to pick them up. Our recycling program only accepts 5 items. These include (1) Cardboard, (2) Mixed Paper, (3) Plastics with a #1-#7 symbol, (4) Household Glass **City of Saskatoon only**, and (5) Household Tin & Aluminum. All other items are prohibited from the program. This is because we have people and machines working at our recycling facility. Placing non-recyclable items into your bin could and does quite frequently hurt our employees and damage machines or contaminate clean recyclables.

Solution: Visit the  ’What can be recycled?’ section of the website to understand how to recycle better.


Loraas disposal and recycle programs create an incredibly efficient recycling and garbage disposal process in comparison to past practices. At Loraas, 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 bin placement reference photos and guideline information, please use the free printable link: Curbside Recycling Guidelines – Loraas. Thank you for your continuous participation.




Loraas Organics – 3 Reasons Why You Should Compost

Take the initiative to make Saskatoon and the surrounding communities a cleaner and greener place to live. Composting is a simple, cost-efficient and easy solution for a large portion of our current waste stream. Join the Loraas Green Team! Loraas currently offers green cart organic services to the communities of the Town of Dalmeny, the City of Martensville, the Town of Rosetown and the City of Warman. Start composting and spread the word about our upcoming Loraas Organics program. Here are three important reasons you should join:

  1. Composting reduces landfill waste.

For landfills to remain sustainable, public participation in organic programs and composting is required to save land and air space at our current landfills. For years, Loraas has developed and implemented alternatives such as recycling to help decrease the amount of “waste” taken to our northern landfill. However, not all your “waste” should be considered garbage. Put your waste in the right place! First, determine if your waste can be reused or recycled. Composting may be a key component in saving landfills because organics take up valuable space that could have been otherwise used correctly. Currently, 40% of household and 70% of commercial waste is organic materials.

  1. Composting reduces Greenhouse gas emissions.

Methane gas is a contributor to Greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions in Canada. The number one reason is the decomposition of organic “waste” within these facilities. In order for organics to break down oxygen is required. Landfills do not allow organic materials to break down correctly; as opposed to composting. The gases in landfills are made up of a half and half mixture of carbon dioxide (CO2) and methane. Landfills anaerobically decompose organic materials creating methane gas. Whereas composting piles require recurrent rotating which allows aerobic decomposition of organic material creating a byproduct of CO2. Organic programs and composting allow us to easily keep organic material out of landfills.

Composting is a better alternative compared to the past mindset of burning. Burning organic material could potentially release chemical dioxins into the air. In addition, it causes lowered air-quality. Extended low air-quality often leads to increases in asthmatic symptoms and allergic reactions in humans and animals and decreases plant photosynthetic production.

  1. Composting increases soil health.

Composting is scientifically proven to increase soil health by improving soil texture and structure, allowing for the retention of moisture, nutrients, and air. A well-structured soil is determined by the way inorganic particles (sand, silt, and clay) combine with inorganic material (humus and compost). This can be concluded by how well the soil crumbles, which involves moisture retention, drainage, decreased erosion, and soil weight. Compost promotes soil biodiversity by adding essential plant nutrients (nitrogen, phosphorus, potassium and multiple micronutrients) back into deficient soils. By doing so, you can bring soil states back to neutralized conditions that were once acidic or alkaline. Compost acts as a slow-release and cost-efficient solution for fertilizer and garden pest deterrent without the worry of toxic run-off into our crucial waterways.

Show us your green thumb and start composting. Check our website frequently for upcoming news about the Loraas Organics program. Join the Loraas Green Team today!

The 5 R’s – Recycling Hierarchy

The slogan we have all come to know and love has changed. Are you aware that the 3 R’s has changed to 5 R’s? By applying the five R’s to our everyday life, we can REDUCE what we RECYCLE!

  1. Rethink

The first step to the Waste Reduction hierarchy is to rethink. Rethink the ways you are currently making choices because there many simple and eco-friendly options we make daily. Have you considered an in-home composter for your organic waste instead of tossing your food scraps in the garbage? The more you complete the first step, the less you have to Refuse, Reduce, Reuse & Recycle. Starting new lifestyle choices is easy so try it now!

  1. Refuse

Sometimes as a consumer, we just should say no! By making better choices, learning how to shop smarter and adding other alternatives to our everyday regimes will help our planet! Refuse plastic grocery bags by bringing your own reusable bags to the grocery store or refuse to buy items with excessive packaging.

  1. Reduce

Reducing your eco-footprint sounds difficult, however, there are healthy and smart alternatives we can make. Did you pack a zero-waste lunch today or bike to work? Reducing the amount of waste we use and making greener choices, reduces the overall amount we take our landfill!

  1. Reuse

Is that item you are going to recycle or throw out considered “junk”? Through the eyes of another, it may not be! Think before you throw! Could you donate that item to someone else who needs it? Can you convert the use of those old rusty pots and pans? There are multiple search engines like SWRC.ca and the Waste Wizard to get you find places to divert your recyclables.

  1. Recycle

The last step in our Waste Reduction hierarchy is recycling. If you couldn’t rethink it, refuse it, reduce it, reuse it…then recycle it! Loraas Recycle is here to help you put your recyclable waste in the right place!

By working together, we can make our community a cleaner and greener place to live and to pass onto our future generations! By using recycled materials we can save our natural resources. Remember to think smart, recycle smart. For information on what you can recycle in your community, visit the Saskatchewan Waste Reduction Council’s website.

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Loraas Celebrates 50 Years

To celebrate our 50th anniversary, Loraas had new logo and truck wraps designed for our residential recycling fleet.

Partnering with local marketing agency William Joseph, we designed wraps for the major materials that we recycle: aluminum, cardboard, and plastic. Each wrap is a parody of a prominent campaign associated with the materials: pop cans, pizza boxes, and milk jugs. These irreverent wraps feature playful messages, such as “Loraas Recycles – Now That’s Refreshing!” or “Got Milk Jugs?” as well as the logos of the organizations Loraas is proud to support.

Students Environmental Initiative Contests

Saskatoon students contribute to a greener environment by making a commitment to recycling the right way on Earth Day. In honour of Earth Day on April 22, Loraas encouraged students from Grades 3 to 8 to participate and take a stand to get back to basics: Reduce, Reuse, Recycle. Each year, Loraas Recycle holds an Earth Day poster contest for the Public and Greater Catholic School Divisions.

The 2017 contest theme was “Lend a Hand to Save the Land”, and brought in 312 multi-talented entries from across the city.  Student participation and enthusiasm about recycling is a great example of how Saskatoon can help create a sustainable environment for generations to come. Students and Teachers don’t fret if you missed this year’s contest! Loraas Recycle holds is Earth Day contests annually. Watch for posters around your school in April or check back to our website for more details!

To learn more about recycling with Loraas in Saskatoon, contact us to book your classroom for a free tour of our Recycling Facility, and your students can help with “the war on waste” by becoming more green-friendly and eco-conscious! Visit our state-of-the-art Education Center today, which includes several learning stations featuring educational touch screen sorting games, interactive trivia, and much more.