A study looking at how Thunder Bay handles its waste shows there's an appetite for a better recycling program.

Some new ideas presented at an open house Tuesday night will be rolled into a 20-year plan for the city's garbage.

The consultant who prepared the report for the city said people need to change their behaviour to reduce the amount of garbage going to the city's landfill.

Mike McKerman, one of the authors, said about half of the people surveyed want to recycle more.

"The single biggest change they want is a lot more diversion of recyclable materials out of the landfill,” he said.

“That includes industrial [and] commercial waste for instance, of which there is a very low capture and diversion rate."

McKerman said one new idea is to recycle kitchen scraps on a city-wide basis.

Another is to set up recycling for businesses, as they create more than half of the garbage going to the landfill.

‘A lot more room to recycle’

Thunder Bay resident Pat Melanson said she agrees there's more work to be done when it comes to waste reduction. She was one of about 25 people who attended the public meeting.

"I definitely think we could recycle a lot more than we are,” she said.

“Plastics are … one of the biggest problems [and] electronics. And, I just mean there's a lot more room to recycle many other products."

The CEO of Habitat for Humanity said the city should look to build partnerships with community groups to help with its recycling efforts.

"We can help you to divert waste,” Diane Mitchell said.

“That stuff that can be reused by people, it not only helps to reuse the items that are going to the landfill, but the money that's generated builds houses for people that don't have housing in Thunder Bay."

Other ideas included:

  • The Regional Food Distribution Association gathering kitchen waste for compost for its proposed greenhouse.
  • Collecting garbage every second week, and collecting recycling every week.
  • Using clear garbage bags so officials can monitor what is thrown out
  • If recyclables are thrown out as garbage, city workers will give residents a notice, and garbage isn't picked up.

There's no cost projected for expanding recycling programs. City council will get that information later this fall, along with a final report on the development of Thunder Bay's Solid Waste Management Strategy.