Thunder Bay, ON, Canada (pop. 108,359), sits on the shores of the world’s largest freshwater lake. Naturally, it is a place with crystal-clear water, fresh air, an incredible ecosystem and a robust array of wildlife. Now, the city is in a fight to keep things this way, enacting its EarthCare Sustainability Plan just this year. By 2020, Thunder Bay aims to cut its greenhouse gas emissions to 20% below its 2009 levels. The plan touches on a variety of initiatives, including green building, sustainable urban development and various lifestyle changes, including an increased reliability on recycling. By 2020, the city wants to completely phase out plastic bottle usage in public facilities, local schools and public events. The aim is to see per-capita residential solid waste decrease by 15% from 2005 baseline figures. It is a steep hill to climb, but waste reduction is already a way of life in Thunder Bay. Currently, the city utilizes a biweekly curbside recycling collection program. At this time, the city does not provide carts or bins, instead instructing residents to bundle recyclables in clear (see-through) bags. A multitude of community collection events occur regularly, though, offering safe recycling of just about any household item one could imagine. Expect the frequency of these events to climb in the coming years.

Materials recycled

Paper products (separate bag) Newspapers and inserts, flyers, magazines, catalogs, office paper, junk mail, paperback books, loose paper, paper egg cartons and paperboard should be placed together in a plastic bag and sealed before dropping curbside. Containers (separate bag) Plastic bottles and containers numbered 1 and 2 (rinsed; lids/caps OK), aluminum cans (rinsed), steel/tin cans (rinsed), juice boxes, beverage cartons and glass bottles and jars should be placed together in a plastic bag and sealed before dropping curbside. Corrugated cardboard (separate bundle) Corrugated cardboard should be broken down, bundled together and placed next to recycling bags at the curb.


Thunder Bay recycles at the curb on a biweekly basis. Bags must be placed at the curb no earlier than 4 p.m. the day prior to collection and no later than 7 a.m. on collection day, 5 feet from garbage containers. A collection schedule is available online.

Other programs

The Thunder Bay Solid Waste & Recycling Facility, 5405 Mapleward Rd., collects household hazardous waste (including paint, solvents, antifreeze, insecticide, drain cleaner, spot remover, household cleansers, mercury thermometers, household batteries, spent fluorescent tubes and compact fluorescent bulbs, oven cleaner, used motor oil, empty propane tanks, herbicides, pesticides and fertilizers), household recyclables and e-waste. Access is free to residents. The facility is open Monday through Friday, from 8 a.m. to 6:30 p.m., and Saturday, from 8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.

Thunder Bay is home to two more recycling depots that accept the above-listed household recyclables: the Mountdale Depot (on Mountdale Avenue at Walsh Street, across from Westgate High School) and the Front Street Depot (on Front Street between McIntyre and Van Horne streets). Both facilities are open Monday through Saturday, from 8 a.m. to 6:30 p.m., and are free for residents. Household batteries are also collected at the curb twice annually — once in the fall and once in the spring — using sealable battery bags that are mailed to residents. Yard waste is collected at the curb twice annually — once in May and once in November. Accepted organics include leaves, branches, brush and garden waste (excluding grass clippings). Bundle yard waste in clear plastic bags or approved biodegradable paper bags. Bags should not weigh more than 40 pounds each. Christmas trees can be dropped off for composting at select locations around Thunder Bay approximately three weeks after the holiday. Call 625.2195 for current seasonal locations.

More information

Visit the City of Thunder Bay Recycling & Waste Management website for more recycling program info.