Changes to residential curbside recycling collection coming July 1

Grey recycling cart, with text: Thunder Bay, use your recycling cart as of July 1!As part of Ontario-wide Regulatory changes to introduce an Extended Producer Responsibility (EPR) model for recyclable materials, Circular Materials will manage Thunder Bay’s residential recycling program via their contractor, GFL, as of July 1, 2024.

Also on July 1, GFL will begin the use of an automated recycling cart system for collecting residential curbside recycling. Carts will be delivered, free, to residential households in Thunder Bay in May and June. 

Important points:

  • GFL is responsible for the delivery of recycling carts in May and June; if you have questions about recycling cart delivery or use, contact GFL at 1-844-870-4351 or
  • Do not use your new recycling cart until July 1 - continue to use your blue bags
  • After July 1, blue bags will not be accepted

General information about these changes is available from Circular Materials at 

 What will change on July 1?
  • The City of Thunder Bay’s residential curbside recycling program will be managed by Circular Materials as of July 1, 2024. Circular Materials is the administrator of the common collection system in Ontario on behalf of producers.
  • Circular materials has hired GFL Environmental to provide residential curbside recycling collection services on their behalf in Thunder Bay
  • The City will no longer be operationally and financially responsible for the residential Blue Box (blue bag) program in the community
  • The use of automated recycling carts will begin
  • Blue bags for curbside recycling will no longer be accepted
  • If a resident is unsatisfied with residential curbside recycling services, they are to contact Circular Materials' service provider, GFL, not the City
 What will stay the same?
  • GFL will continue to provide recycling collection services to residential and multi-residential households
  • GFL will continue to operate the three existing City-owned residential recycling depots during the transition period between July 1, 2024, and Dec. 31, 2025
  • The City will continue to be responsible for all other waste diversion/recycling operations and programs, including recycling collection in parks, municipal facilities and city events
  • City of Thunder Bay will continue to manage the curbside collection of garbage, and Leaf & Yard Waste

    After July 1:

    Curbside recycling infographic with garbage can, leaf bag and sticks marked "City of Thunder Bay" and Recycling Cart marked "Circular Materials"
About Circular Materials

Circular Materials is a national not-for-profit organization that builds efficient and effective recycling systems where materials are collected, recycled, and returned to producers to use as recycled content in new packaging and paper. As the administrator of Ontario’s common collection system, Circular Materials is responsible for operating the new system for blue box materials. They are committed to increasing recycling rates across Ontario and ensuring more materials are looped into the circular economy, benefitting both people and the environment.

 What is Extended Producer Responsibility (EPR)?
 In June 2021, the Province of Ontario announced a new recycling regulation that changes Ontario’s residential recycling program.
  • The new Blue Box Regulation (amended) shifts the responsibility for providing recycling services, including funding and operation, away from municipalities and onto producers that create products and packaging. This shift includes the curbside recycling collection, materials sorting, processing and recycling of materials, as well as resident education and promotion.
  • The shift of all of Ontario’s current municipally run blue box programs to full producer responsibility is being phased in over a three-year period between July 2023 and Dec. 2025.
Benefits of EPR
The benefits of making producers of products and packaging waste responsible for the collection and recycling of the materials include:
  • unifying the residential recycling ("Blue Box") programs across Ontario starting in 2026
  • potentially decreasing and/or improving packaging
  • potentially moving more waste away from the landfill after recovery targets come into effect in 2026 and onward
 EPR-related Council Reports
 City of Thunder Bay Corporate Report - Blue Box Recycling Update - May 6, 2024
Organizations leading EPR
Circular Materials (CM)
Canadian Beverage Container Recycling Association (CBCRA)
Ministry of Public and Business Service Delivery, 1-800-889-9768 
Province of Ontario - Waste Management page
Province of Ontario – News Release June 2021, Enhancing the Blue Box Program
Resource Productivity & Recovery Authority (RPRA)

Curbside recycling collection before July 1, 2024

Curbside recycling collection takes place every two weeks, usually on the same day every week, with some exceptions for holidays.

Your recycling collection day is indicated by the recycling symbol on your waste collection calendar.

What time to place recycling at the curb

Place recycling at the curb after 4 pm on the day before collection, or before 7 am on the day of collection. It is important to make sure garbage is at the curb on time. Collection schedules can vary!

Recycling item limit

There is no limit on the number of items you can put out for recycling collection.

How to recycle

Recycling is as easy as 1, 2, 3

  1. See-through plastic blue bag for paper: newspapers, flyers, junk mail, magazines, paperbacks, fine paper, paper food and beverage cartons (egg cartons), boxboard such as cereal boxes. Cardboard must be flattened.
  2. Bundles of cardboard: large cereal boxes, shoeboxes, clean delivery boxes, tied securely with twine.
  3. See-through plastic blue bag for containers: pop cans, milk cartons, juice boxes, metal cans, all #1 through #7 plastic containers (e.g. drink bottles, soap bottles, salad and fruit containers), glass bottles and jars. Containers must be rinsed of any liquid or food residue.

Pro tip #1: rinse your containers - do your part to keep the recycling stream clean!

Pro tip #2: remember, single-use bags and styrofoam are not allowed in the recycling stream.  

Recycling curbside pick-up

Place recycling bags 1.5 m (5 feet) away from your garbage at the curb. The maximum bag weight is 18 kg (40 lbs.).

Do not place recycling bags on snowbanks

Waste collection staff cannot collect recycling from the top of snowbanks for safety reasons. If you are running out of room, use a shovel to dig a hollow in the snowbank in which to place your recycling for collection.

What if I live in an apartment?

Live in an apartment or large multi-unit dwelling? Contact your Superintendent for recycling information.

Recycling depots

Thunder Bay has three recycling depots.

Mountdale Avenue at Walsh Street Recycling Depot

  • Across from Westgate High School
  • Open Monday to Friday 8 am to 6:30 pm and Saturday 8 am to 4:30 pm
  • Closed Sundays and all statutory holidays

Front Street Recycling Depot

  • Between McIntyre and Van Horne Streets
  • Open Monday to Friday 8 am to 6:30 pm and Saturday 8 am to 4:30 pm
  • Closed Sundays and all statutory holidays

City of Thunder Bay Solid Waste & Recycling Facility Recycling Depot

  • 5405 Mapleward Road (take the second right after entering the gate, before crossing the scales)
  • Open Monday to Friday 8 am to 6:30 pm and Saturday 8 am to 4:30 pm
  • Closed Sundays and statutory holidays

Tips for using the recycling depots

  • Watch the signs at the depots - bins are labelled for speciic recycling streams
  • Only leave recyclables at the depots - take garbage and large items away with you
  • For information on disposing of larger items, call 807-625-2195

Household hazardous wasteHousehold Hazardous Waste bins at City of Thunder Bay Solid Waste & Recycling Facility

If a product is marked DANGER or POISON, it is toxic, corrosive or extremely flammable. WARNING or CAUTION indicates that the product is slightly toxic. Incorrect disposal of any of these products can endanger people, pets and the environment. You can drop off such materials at the Household Hazardous Waste Depot.

Household Hazardous Waste (HHW) Depot location and hours


Solid Waste & Recycling Facility (landfill site), 5405 Mapleward Rd., between Oliver Road and John Street Road.


Monday to Friday: 8 am - 6:30 pm

Saturday: 8 am - 4:30 pm

Closed Sundays and statutory holidays

What does the HHW Depot accept?

The HHW Depot only accepts special residential waste such as:

  • Household cleaners - e.g. drain cleaner, spot remover, oven cleaner, toilet cleaner
  • Garden chemicals - e.g. insecticides, herbicides, fertilizers
  • Paint, and solvents such as Varsol, paint remover, acetone
  • Used motor oil and oil filters (limit of two 5-gallon containers of used oil at any one time)
  • Household batteries under 5 kg (note: lithium batteries must be individually bagged or have the positive terminal taped for safe storage)
  • Fluorescent tubes and compact fluorescent lights (CFLs)
  • Empty propane tanks
  • Electronic waste

Drop off hazardous waste in its original container, or label all products you bring to the Depot.

Never mix hazardous wastes.

Identifying hazardous waste

Consumers often rely on product labels for information, but labels may not list all ingredients. You can consider a product potentially hazardous if you see these symbols or signal words: Danger, Warning, Poison, Caution, Caustic, Irritant, Volatile.

Products labelled "Danger" are the most hazardous.

Sharps and used medications

Via Canada's Health Products Stewardship Association, Ontarians can return unused or expired medications and sharps, free of charge, to many pharmacies in our community. Collection locations near you. 

Stewardship Ontario's Orange Drop Program

Under Stewardship Ontario's Orange Drop Program, local retailers accept many hazardous waste items for proper disposal. For a full list of locations or "Drop Zones" and what hazardous wastes they accept, visit Make the Drop's website.

Electronic wastee-waste bin at City of Thunder Bay Slid Waste & Recycling Facility

Used, broken or unwanted computer and electronic equipment doesn't belong in the landfill. Not only can it leach toxins such as lead, mercury and cadmium into the soil, but it contains valuable materials that can be recycled. Electronics waste must be disposed of in an environmentally responsible way.

How to recycle electronic items

Drop off electronic items at the Household Hazardous Waste Depot at the Solid Waste & Recycling Facility (landfill site). We accept:

  • Personal computers, printers, monitors, cameras, external hard drives
  • DVD players, VCRs
  • Printer ink cartridges
  • Video gaming devices
  • Audio equipment
  • Telephones, including cell phones
  • Radios and stereos, including vehicle sound systems
  • Headphones
  • Speakers
  • Security cameras
  • Video recorders
  • Drones with audiovisual features
  • AC adapters ("wall-warts"), cables, power cords and chargers  
  • Handheld point-of-sale devices
  • Electronic musical instruments

What happens to electronics being recycled?

Ontario Electronic Stewardship funds the collection and consolidation of e-waste in Ontario. Waste is collected and shipped to industries that disassemble and re-use up to 90% of the e-waste components.

Working electronics

Items still in working condition, and not obsolete, can be donated to agencies such as The Salvation Army - just call first to confirm. Check the Yellow Pages of the telephone book under Second-Hand Store or Computers - some local businesses will buy used computers in working condition.

For more information on recycling collection and depots, call the City Dispatchers at 807-625-2195.

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