Thunder Bay expanding plastics recycling program

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As reported by the CBC, Thunder Bay City Council recently renewed the contract for waste collection with GFL Environmental which includes an expansion of its curbside plastics recycling program to include all #1 (PETE) and #2 plastics (HDPE), including clamshell containers.

The contract with GFL is for seven years at a cost of $3 million per year.

Jason Sherband, the city’s manager of solid waste, told council there is a demand for more items to be included in the municipal recycling program. The expected cost of adding in all #1 and #2 plastics is about $60,000 per year.

That total will be offset by a new revenue sharing component, where the city and GFL will split any revenue 50/50 from the recycled materials. However, the deal allows for the city to also contribute to any losses in revenue.

The Council decided against expanding the plastics recycling program to include plastics #3 through #7 as the collection and processing costs of $180,000 per year would not likely be off-set by the revenue generated through their sale.

Council agreed to have City staff study the issue including plastics #3 through #7 and report back to Council before the 2021 budget.  With the Province of Ontario committed to Extended Producer Responsibility (EPR), the costing of blue box programs is likely to shift from municipalities to producers.

The changes to the recycling program in the city are still for households and multi-residential properties only. Thunder Bay does not have a municipal recycling program for businesses.

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