Saskatoon

Needles, batteries and animal carcasses: Loraas Recycle workers say blue bin garbage poses safety risk

The company responsible for much of Saskatoon's recycling system says garbage ending up in blue bins is causing serious safety concerns.

6 weeks of repairs required at sorting facility after fire caused by rechargeable battery

Loraas employee Adam Gartner says workers often run into dangerous items in the sorting line. (Matthew Garand/CBC News)

The company responsible for much of Saskatoon's recycling system says garbage ending up in blue bins is causing serious safety concerns.

In May, a rechargeable lithium-ion battery started a serious fire at Loraas Recycle's sorting facility. After six weeks of repairs and renovations, the facility is finally back to normal.

While batteries are a serious concern at Loraas, other items like axes, chainsaws and ammunition can seriously injure workers.

"These people working at Loraas Recycle are mothers, brothers, sisters and fathers," said Loraas community relations co-ordinator Jenna Curson.

"I will always want to remind you guys to think smart before you toss anything in the recycling cart."

One Loraas worker said hypodermic needles are also becoming a serious concern. While employees wear thick gloves, workers have been poked in the past, although no one has contracted any diseases as a result.

A collection of dangerous materials found in Loraas Recycle bins include propane tanks, chains and power tools. (Matthew Garand/CBC News)

"Once an employee is poked, we take them to the clinic immediately," said worker Adam Gartner. "I've definitely talked down a number of employees from concerns about it."

Contamination —  non-recyclable material or garbage in the recycling system — has risen by 75 per cent in the last three years, according to Loraas.

The recycling program only accepts paper, cardboard, plastics, tin cans, aluminum and household glass.

The program recently stopped accepting plastic bags.

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