Trash material if you're sick, says Sask.'s largest recycling provider

Reuse and recycle — unless you're sick, that is.

Saskatchewan's largest recycling facility is advising residents to throw recyclable materials into the trash if anyone in the household is ill in any way.

The change comes in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic that has resulted in limitations on mass gatherings, layoffs across the country and mandatory self-isolation for those returning to Saskatchewan from international travel.

"We take the safety of our employees so seriously, and we want to make sure that they're not coming into [contact with] any material that has been touched by somebody who is currently ill," said Alexa Mofazzali, a digital media specialist at Loraas Recycle.

That means anything that was handled by someone who is sick, or that came into contact with a person's eyes, nose or mouth, should be treated as garbage. 

The changes have been put into effect at all Loraas operations, which services numerous communities in Saskatchewan's north as well as Saskatoon.

Mofazzali explained staff are also being given extra breaks throughout their shifts to help reduce potential exposure by cleaning their protective equipment, but noted chances for contact are "incredibly low."

"They have masks on, they have glasses on, they have poke-proof gloves on, they have coveralls," she said, noting all of the equipment is left at work to be sterilized.

"Though it is heartbreaking to have to lose those recyclable materials, it's what we need to do in order to keep our employees safe and further prevent the further spread of this disease." 

Mofazzali says the company is asking people to be as "cautious as possible," since material thrown into the recycling could result in exposure down the line.

"Every time they put something in their blue cart, it will come into contact with one or more human beings who hand-sort that material at our facility," she said.

"This is not just sorted by machines, they are real people who sort this material. Please keep their safety, and their lives and their families in mind when you're putting stuff into your cart." 

Loraas is also asking customers to ensure their carts are properly placed and clear of any debris to ensure its staff doesn't have unnecessary contact with the material.