Since 1992, a volunteer organization has existed named the Zero Waste Action Team (ZWATeam) that focuses on initiatives in Thunder Bay and Northwestern Ontario. The ZWATeam is comprised of 40 members of the industrial, commercial and institutional (IC&I) sectors, community organizations and advisors from city council, administration and the environment ministry. The group’s goal is the elimination of waste, proper management of resources and promotion of local jobs and economic self-sufficiency.
ZWATeam will cooperate with the relatively new Ontario Zero Waste Coalition and other groups to encourage Zero Waste initiatives in the province, especially those outlined in the environment minister’s recent discussion paper “Toward a Zero Waste Future: Review of Ontario’s Waste Diversion Act, 2002.”
The ZWATeam is urging the City of Thunder Bay to adopt a goal of Zero Waste and has offered to work with the city to develop and implement a comprehensive, integrated waste management plan adhering to the principles of Zero Waste.
ZWATeam members held a Waste Reduction and Recycling Information Fair at Intercity Shopping Centre during Waste Reduction Week, providing information about Zero Waste and tips to help our community achieve this goal.
The ZWATeam received a 2008 SOLEC Success Story Award from Environment Canada and the American EPA on October 22 in Niagara Falls for its Electronic Waste Diversion Pilot Project. In 2004, the ZWATeam worked with a local business, the City of Thunder Bay and the provincial environment ministry to develop infrastructure for a long-term e-waste diversion solution for all sectors in Thunder Bay. As a result, the Pack Pros Plus E-Waste Collection Depot was established and has diverted more than 400,000 pounds of e-waste responsibly to date. It has also ensured that Thunder Bay is well positioned for the launch of Ontario’s E-Waste Stewardship Program early in 2009.
As part of its efforts to eliminate waste, the ZWATeam has formed a Plastic Bag Reduction Committee. It’s working with local retailers to reduce the use of plastic shopping bags in the community by a minimum of 50 per cent by 2012. The committee has developed a Plastic Bag Training CD for retailers with tips for staff to encourage customers’ use of reusable bags. Committee members are visiting local retailers and giving them free copies of the CD and encouraging them to promote and provide incentives for customers’ use of reusable bags. The ZWATeam has also formed a Plastic Shrink Wrap Stakeholder Committee to develop infrastructure with local retailers, to divert shrink wrap and other plastic packaging from landfill.
Thunder Bay uses a blue bag system to collect residential sector recyclables at the curbside. The ZWATeam recognizes that purchasing blue bags and reusable bags can pose a hardship for families living in poverty. In order to assist these families to reduce, reuse and recycle the Plastic Bag Reduction Committee has successfully recruited sponsors to provide two reusable bags, five blue bags and a copy of the City’s Mr. Green Guide for each of this year’s Christmas Cheer Hampers. Students, ZWATeam members and families will put together 2,500 “green packages” for the hampers at an event hosted by Churchill High School on December 13. They’ll hold a media event to acknowledge and thank all the participants and sponsors on the day before.
More information about the ZWATeam is available at: