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Whitehorse Daily Star: Partners sew up deal for textile baler

Mar 08, 2023Mar 08, 2023

A new textile baler at the Raven Recycling Centre is helping divert used clothing from the Yukon's landfills.

By Gabrielle Plonka on February 26, 2020

A new textile baler at the Raven Recycling Centre is helping divert used clothing from the Yukon's landfills.

The baler was purchased in partnership with the Whitehorse Firefighters Charitable Society and the Yukon government. It was officially unveiled at

Raven's Industrial Road premises on Monday afternoon.

"Finding a way to repurpose and reuse clothing is always the best option, and we know Yukoners are great at coming up with creative solutions to reduce waste," said John Streicker, the minister of Community Services.

"It is also necessary, that as a territory, we have a viable option for recycling textiles."

The Yukon's landfills currently absorb between 200,000 and 300,000 pounds of reusable textiles every year, Streicker noted.

Nicholas O’Carroll has taken the lead on a textile recycling initiative at the firefighters’ society. He told attendees that large influxes of textile donations have been "strangling" the city's second-hand stores.

O’Carroll said he was inspired to focus on textile recycling after watching three of Whitehorse's second-hand clothing options shut down. He said the overload of donations was putting an unsustainable pressure on those resources.

Since taking on the textile recycling initiative in 2017, O’Carroll said, the society has diverted 365,000 pounds of textiles from the territory's landfills.

"We take it as a huge point of success that since we started the program … we’ve seen the Whitehorse community thrift store come on to the market and do quite well," O’Carroll said.

"A lot of that has to do with the fact they didn't get overburdened with textile waste material."

O’Carroll said Raven Recycling saw a massive influx of textile donations since beginning the program, necessitating the purchase of a baler.

"We needed a system that wouldn't be so taxing for them," O’Carroll said.

Now, the textile baler will help Raven Recycling double the amount of used clothing it's able to recycle.

The textile baler compresses clothing donations into compact bales that are easier and cheaper to transport. The bales will be transported to Vancouver and sold to a textile recycling company, Trans-Continental Textile Recycling Ltd.

Once transported, the textiles will be recycled into insulation materials, industrial rags or resold as clothing items.

The textiles are sold for $330 per metric ton, with the proceeds paying for shipping costs. The surplus will be split evenly between Raven Recycling and the firefighters Charitable Society.

The price for textiles is "not a lot" but higher than some other recyclable materials, and the price is consistent, attendees were told. For comparison, recycled cardboard sells for $8 per ton and aluminum cans sell for $770 per ton.

O’Carroll noted that recycling textiles is not generally lucrative, necessitating that the charitable society take on the task.

"Monetary value was not high enough to entice private industry to grapple with this growing problem," O’Carroll said.

"Our two organizations working together with common mandates to help their community were able to offset the pressure faced by second-hand organizations."

The new baler will double or triple Raven's capacity to ship textiles down south, alleviate waste and collect that revenue.

The baler was purchased for $69,000. The Yukon government's Community Development Fund provided $50,000 toward the cost, with Raven and the charitable society splitting the difference.

Gabrielle Plonka February 26, 2020