2013-06-04 at 22:31
Kyla Turner speaks at the Solid Waste Management Strategy town-hall meeting on June 4, 2013.
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Kyla Turner wants the city’s recycling program changed so that she can properly dispose her plastic fork.
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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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