Abbotsford is leading the way in the Fraser Valley with a new bylaw that requires all industries, businesses and institutions in the city to implement recycling programs.
However, the increased costs of the green initiative, at least in the coming year, will be borne by residential taxpayers.
On Monday, council passed the new bylaw that makes recycling mandatory for the industrial, commercial and institutional (ICI) sector.
As of Jan. 1, 2013, all ICI properties will have to install appropriate containers to collect recyclables and ensure they are delivered to an authorized recycling depot.
In 2010, Abbotsford's residential sector accounted for about 9,800 tonnes of recyclables at the city's depot, which was more than double the amount collected by the ICI sector.
Many Abbotsford businesses don't have extensive recycling programs, or only collect paper and cardboard.
Abbotsford Mayor Bruce Banman said the new bylaw reflects the city's environmental objectives.
"I think most people agree it's wasteful to dump recyclables into landfills, and we need to change that pattern," he said.
"We've got to start doing what's right by our future generations."
However, in the past and under the new bylaw, ICI properties are not required to pay recycling fees and are subsidized by residential taxpayers.
In 2010, the residential sector picked up a tab of approximately $220,000 to process more than 4,400 tonnes of ICI recycling, according to city estimates.
That cost to residential taxpayers was expected to jump to $230,000 in 2011.
Costs at the Abbotsford Mission Recycling Depot may go up due to the increased tonnage expected from the ICI sector, a staff report noted.
Banman said increased costs might result with more recyclables collected, but it might also create a windfall if the market for certain recyclables is strong.
City staff will keep tabs on the situation and report back to council after a year.
"It's the task of staff to monitor the cost to make sure it doesn't transfer an unnecessary burden [to the residential sector]," he said.
Council decided not to impose the recycling fees after consulting with ICI sector and the Abbotsford Chamber of Commerce.
While supportive of the recycling initiative, the sector argued against fees saying businesses already pay substantial property taxes and not all the ICI's recyclables would go to the city's depot.
Barry Azevedo, the city's solid waste and environmental engineer, said Abbotsford is the first Fraser Valley municipality to undertake such a bylaw.
"Other cities in the Fraser Valley Regional District are watching how it will proceed here and [are] looking to see how to move forward," Azevedo said.
The bylaw also means that waste haulers hired by businesses can no longer just dump recyclables at private dumps or transfer stations.
The new bylaw will level the playing field for businesses that have already taken steps to instigate comprehensive recycling programs, Azevedo added.
The Abbotsford Ramada Plaza and Conference Centre, London Drugs, Lucerne, Tradex and Elmauer Institute are some members of the ICI sector that have already set up recycling programs.
A number of those businesses have actually saved money by implementing their recycling programs, Azevedo said.
Christine Lane, Ramada's director of marketing and sales, said the hotel and conference centre implemented an extensive recycling program, which includes collecting organic waste as fertilizer for the kitchen herb garden, in 2006.
"We were able to cut down our amount of waste going into a landfill by about 70 per cent," said Lane.
"It is less expensive for us to get all of our organic, recycling and refundables picked up than having two pickups of garbage a week."