Thunder Bay District Municipal League Tackles Plastic in the Landfills
THUNDER BAY, ONTARIO - June 9, 2019 (LSN) – Representatives from across the north shore were “down in the dumps” during discussions held in the Township of Dorion on June 8th at the regular meeting of the Thunder Bay District Municipal League.
Reeve Wendy Wright (Gillies) asked for a dialogue on the issues of landfill sites (AKA “the dump”) specifically about the increasing amount of plastic, and in particular, single use plastic.
Information in the discussion included the provincial government’s Strategy for a Waste-Free Ontario supporting the idea that producers should be responsible for the end-of-life management of their products and packaging.
Members of the 18 municipalities within the TBDML present at the meeting all reported the same issue of increasing plastic in the landfill and rapidly shortening life-expectancy of landfill sites. Enlarging, or closing and opening a new site, would have a major expenditure implication on any municipality.
Many representatives reported complaints from community members on the appearance of the landscape around dumps, particularly with single-use plastic adorning trees and roadways. The issue then, is not just that of an environmental hazard, but one of community concern over the esthetics of the area they live in.
Most of the League’s smaller member municipalities do not have businesses within their boundaries and noted that their councils cannot make rules about the handover of plastic bags by retailers. Mayor Richard Harvey (Nipigon) noted that the cost of the plastic bag for the business is minimal compared to the cost of providing a paper bag. The push, then, must come from the purchaser rather than the retailer.
In the past, a few municipalities have tried to restrict the use of single-use plastic bags by retailers and have met with opposition from the community. It was noted, however, that public opinion is changing and the use of cloth bags or multi-use plastic bags is becoming more common.
League President, Mayor Rick Dumas (Marathon) encouraged members to set the example and use the bags we are all carrying in our cars. Dumas noted that “one person making a change in their habits may not seem like much but just a simple shift in one person’s pattern can have a ripple effect” without each municipality.
The issue will be brought forward to the 102nd Annual Meeting and Conference of the Thunder Bay District Municipal League in October of this year.