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2013-06-04 at 22:31

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By Jeff Labine,
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Kyla Turner wants the city’s recycling program changed so that she can properly dispose her plastic fork.

That was one of the main goals Turner had when she attended the city’s Solid Waste Management Strategy town-hall meeting Tuesday. Turner and more than 80 other participants attended the meeting held at the Italian Cultural Centre in order to give input on the city’s strategy.

Turner said the issue with recycling her plastic fork started when she wondered what to do with it. She asked a number of companies on what to do and found that her number five plastic fork wasn’t a material that is recycled in the city.

“I told them I didn’t want to send it to the landfill,” she said. “I called Eco Superior and the lady said she understood my dilemma because she had a basement full of Styrofoam and couldn’t get rid of it. I guess she saved it up and a friend would drive it down to Toronto and recycle it for her. Instead of going on a pilgrimage to Toronto, I decided to come to this meeting today and learn what our strategy is and how we’re going to change how we recycle in Thunder Bay.”

She said it's unfortunate that simple items like a plastic fork can’t be recycled and if a plan isn’t in place, then the city’s going to have to deal with massive landfills.

She praised the city’s initiatives bring proposed at the meeting including the idea of curbside composting.

Composting was an idea that Jason Mckee also supported.

Mckee came to the meeting mostly because he was curious as to what the city was doing. He said the current recycling and waste management systems that are in place are as good as could be expected, although he added that he was glad people were looking at improving that system.

“I notice the city picks up recycling every second week while garbage is picked up every week,” he said. “It is kind of up to the person, the consumer to have that separated and organized. I guess it’s not just about frequency but also quality.”

City officials later took questions from both members of the audience and those online using Twitter.

One question posted online suggested the city take a page from the TV show the Simpsons and use old mine shafts as landfills.
A person in the audience asked why the city uses blue plastic bags instead of blue bins.

One of the speakers gave a number of reasons why the city chooses plastic bags over bins. One of those reasons was that the plastic bags offer more protection to the materials inside.

Another participant wanted the city to put more pressure on businesses and institutions to do more to recycle. One person even suggested creating more bylaws to try to deter people from littering and dumping trash.

Margarita Wilson, a Grade 9 student at Westgate Collegiate and Vocational Institute, asked for the city to include more youth input in the strategy. She believes that students need to take a stand on the issue.

“I think this is a great idea but this was never brought up at my school,” the 14-year-old said. “My school is very green oriented; we have solar panels, we do recycling. I thought this would be exciting to bring up to my school. We should get the every school involved. It is going to be our city in a few years and we’re the ones that are going to have to deal with the implications of whatever happens here.”

She also praised the city for allowing residents to ask questions and give input.

Jason Sherband, co-ordinator for the solid waste diversion and recycling, said the city does well with the resources available but there’s always room for improvement.

He explained that the city doesn’t recycle certain types of plastics because it depends on the market.

“That’s what the producers want they want those type one and twos,” he said. “The other ones are a little more problematic. There has been a lot of work in industry to establish markets for those things because when you introduce something you can never take it back. You have to make sure that market is there for today and tomorrow.”

Sherband said the strategy that they are developing will look at what kinds of infrastructure they need in order to include more plastics into the recycling program.

Cathy Smith, a Stantec consultant retained by the city to help guide the new strategy, said the meeting was the first step in a process to develop the strategy. Although the process has only just begun, she expected that they will have something before city council in the fall.

“The public’s input into the system is critical to its success because ultimately they are the users,” she said. “The more engaged and comprehensive the consultation is the more support we tend to get from the community when you implement it.”


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Winger says:
Drive a load of Styrofoam to Toronto?

yes, that's a real green move there.
6/4/2013 10:37:40 PM
joey joe joe jr. shabadoo says:
If u need help on what to do with yer fork, u have more issues than the fork!!!!

???wash the fork & re-use it!

Are we that spoiled that we have to just throw it away anyways?

-keep it for the cottage/camp/camper?
-or use it for scooping butter?
-use it to scratch yer back even!

6/5/2013 6:34:20 AM
tiredofit says:
The point is Joey, the item will eventually run is life course and still need to be disposed of. If other municipalities can recycle them, then perhaps ReCool should be looking into it, or better yet, have another company setup shop and take care of it.
6/5/2013 10:55:42 AM
sky high says:
You know that it's time to get a hobby when you get yourself into a frenzy over a plastic fork. And yes I recycle....but I don't think I'm going to change the world by modifying our program
6/5/2013 6:55:42 AM
bttnk says:
@ Joey and Sky high - it seems you guys missed the point of Mrs Turners story. It wasn't "what will I do with my fork" it was "why can't we recycle this plastic in Thunder Bay" like they can in many other municipalties around the globe. Surely you knew that right?
6/5/2013 8:26:56 AM
Kyla Turner says:
haha, I know what to do with the fork guys, but I'm glad it got your attention ;) The problem with plastics is even if you DO recycle them, they are not indefinitely recyclable like glass or aluminum. Even if they're recycled once into another material, that material is often not recyclable. In essence, my plastic fork will end up in the landfill despite the implementation of a recycling program. On a positive note the town hall meeting was really informative, and the idea of an organic waste program is very encouraging :)
6/5/2013 8:46:58 AM
Winger says:
don't buy the fork in the first place. Problem solved.

any other issues you need help with?
6/6/2013 12:48:04 PM
Voice_Of_Reason says:
In grade 9, students learn about the "Tragedy of the Commons". One person might not cause a significant amount of pollution, but a city of individuals do.

Instead of "tragedy", flip it around. Make it a "miracle".

One individual might not change the world, but a city of individuals can.
6/5/2013 8:55:07 AM
jstudent says:
When I was visiting Edmonton, I was impressed to see there were large containers on residential boulevards for each home. No portable garbage containers with lids flying down the street and no small animals breaking in to your garbage. I'm sure it's not for everyone but it's worth considering.
6/5/2013 8:58:49 AM
mystified says:
I see the masters of criticism are at work bright an early.
If the city didn't have a recycling program the masters would be criticizing them for not doing so.
Recycling is a must or we all will be living in one big landfill. The first thing needed is educating the ignorant people who throw their fast food containers out the window as they drive down the streets. Second is manufactures should be forced to put their product in a container that is biodegradable and sized to fit the product. You go buy a bottle of vitamins, there are 60 tablets in a container that could hold 300, total waste of material.
6/5/2013 9:02:32 AM
fastball says:
She's got a legitimate point - what do we do with all the tons of plastic that would ordinarily last forever at a landfill site? It's not about a single no need to mock someone for raising a legit question.
6/5/2013 9:05:35 AM
peas08 says:
I also have concern regarding the blue bags. We are trying to keep bags out of our landfill. Is there not a bag that can be reused?
6/5/2013 9:13:21 AM
Just sayin' says:
Myself and others are tired of recycling truck coming by, taking no recycling and leaving a note. All of us now just put our recycling in the garbage or go to the recycling centre ourselves. I've lived in several cities where curbside pick-up isn't a problem except here. If you aren't going to do your job - fire them.
6/5/2013 9:20:38 AM
mystified says:
Likewise if you are not going to follow the criteria set for our local recycling program, don't expect your blue bags to be picked up because you put junk in the bags. ReCool hauls truckloads of garbage people put into their blue bags to the landfill at their expense.
6/5/2013 11:11:56 AM
Dudebro says:
Its not about educating the ignorant people anymore. They already know but just choose not to do it.
Everyone's solution is "education".
Forever we're going to be the ones cleaning up after the careless people because we care and they don't. Someone will always be there to clean up after the lazy ones.
Perfect example...just look at the garbage around "most" schools. Trust me, they know not to do it but they choose to do it anyway. Its not going to change.
6/5/2013 9:22:32 AM
recyclepath says:
Agree with Dudebro 100%. I would like to see a reduction in the bag limit from 3 to 2 for starters.We very rarely have more than 1 can of garbage weekly for a family of 4, and yet on my block most houses(the same ones weekly)have 3 full/overflowing out at the curb. I would also like to see the manufacturers of products start paying their share of recycling costs or at least have different labelling for different grades of plastics. People should not have to guess if a peanut butter jar for example is recyclable by the size of the neck on the jar. As stated in an earlier post having your blue bag tagged discourages some people from recycling at all. I also think having a blue bin would be great instead of throwing blue plastic bags into the landfill.
6/5/2013 12:01:37 PM
Lilly5 says:
I am curious as to why we can only recycle 1&2 plastics? because Our neighbouring city of Dryden recycles plastics 1-7? so the market is there in Dryden, but not here?
6/5/2013 12:29:32 PM
peas08 says:
Reducing the amount people can put on the curb may seem good in theory but will probably result in more dumping in lanes, wooded areas etc. Also those who have extra bags that cannot be put out will leave them outside to attract rats and critters. We are fortunate to not have a rat problem like other cities some of which arent that far from us.
6/5/2013 1:02:47 PM
CharlieH says:
I visited Nanaimo, BC this winter for 2 months. They have a wonderful recycling program. They only collect actual garbage every 2 weeks. They use a green recycling bin where you put everything compostable in it including kitchen scraps(vegetables, fruit, meat, used paper towels). This is collected weekly along with your paper wasted and cans and bottles. I was very impressed with their recycling program.
6/5/2013 2:07:26 PM
recyclepath says:
I didn't mention in my earlier post that the reason I only have 1 can on garbage day is because we recycle. There is no limit on the number of blue bags you can place out .The kind of person that will throw trash in a lane rather than purchase blue bags will also not recycle their organic waste. I would rather the city try the simplest solution first before going to a pay per bag option which will most certainly lead to more litter. It is at least a starting point.How about a point of sale tax/deposit on all those water & pop bottles? It might only be revenue neutral, but it might get people to recycle and keep some garbage off of our streets and out of the bush.
6/5/2013 2:11:02 PM
J_Northey says:
I used to live in Georgetown and they put in place composting via a Green Bin program. Everyone had a green bin (with lid of course) that you could put out each week. It took away a TON of garbage and virtually every household jumped on it, especially when they shifted to a bi-weekly garbage/weekly recycling & green bin pick up. Easy to do (they also provided a kitchen container with lid) and in the spring they provided free soil from the compost for anyone who wanted it (you had to go to a certain location to pick it up).
6/5/2013 2:38:30 PM
Knauffer says:
Awesome Kyla. Don't let these pessimistic grumpy grumbling complainers get to you lol....I love seeing young active people taking part in discussions and trying to help find seem like an amazing girl and thanks for getting up there to actually do something!!
6/6/2013 8:16:05 AM
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