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City of Abbotsford's mandatory recycling for IC&I sector increases tonnage by 43 percent

City of Abbotsford's mandatory recycling for IC&I sector increases tonnage by 43 percent

At the beginning of 2013 the City of Abbotsford, B.C. implemented a bylaw making it mandatory for all Industrial, Commercial, and Institutional (IC&I) properties to offer adequate space for recycling on their premises.  

Abbotsford is the first municipality in the Fraser Valley (the region immediately south-east of the Greater Vancouver Regional District) to undertake such a bylaw. Previously there had been nothing in place to encourage businesses to recycle. 

In 2010 Abbotsford’s residential sector accounted for about 9,800 tonnes of recyclables, as measured at the local depot, which was double the amount collected by the IC&I sector. At that time, many Abbotsford businesses did not have recycling programs in place, or only collected paper and cardboard.

Under the new bylaw, businesses do not pay fees to recycle, but need to ensure that they provide collection of all recyclables gathered in the residential collection program and that all the recyclables are delivered to an authorized recycling depot as needed. The new bylaw discourages waste haulers from dumping recyclables at private dumps or transfer stations and encourages business to engage in recycling programs as part of their normal business practices.  

“It’s hard to argue with a recycling program,” says Abbotsford Mayor, Bruce Banman. “Most of us recycle at home, as part of our normal daily practice and it makes sense to continue that practice at our place of work. If we can support our local business owners in implementing a program, and help them save them some money, it’s a win-win for our community. To be a sustainable community, we have to have our eye on the big picture and our future generations. Recycling is a part of that.”  

Prior to passing the bylaw, the City held several meetings as part of a public consultation and information process. Geared specifically to the IC&I sector, the City engaged the Abbotsford Chamber of Commerce to ensure the transition went smoothly, and made sure business owners were informed and had a chance to provide feedback and ask questions before the program was implemented.  

Based on the feedback from businesses, the City put together some resources including a downloadable signage package and a comprehensive recycling guide. Abbotsford City staff was available to liaise directly with businesses looking for additional support and guidance, and made site visits and offered recommendations for setting up a program.  

Recent numbers from the Abbotsford/Mission Recycling Depot report that the program is working. Tonnage was up 43 tonnes in the first three months of 2013, compared to 2012. City staff also report that the volume of phone calls and site visits indicate that the majority of IC&I properties are trying to get on board with the new bylaw, if they were not previously complying.