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Lethbridge businesses express concerns as introduction of mandatory recycling nears

Lethbridge businesses prepare for mandatory recycling
WATCH: Businesses in Lethbridge have a number of questions and concerns with the upcoming introduction of mandatory recycling. Emily Olsen reports.

Businesses in Lethbridge are preparing for a mandatory recycling program coming in July.

The program will focus on paper, cardboard and wood materials for now, which make up around 20 per cent of business waste in the city.

With two-thirds of city waste coming from businesses, city officials say it’s a strong first step to reducing the amount of garbage going into the landfill.

“There’s a clear need when two-thirds of the waste is coming from the businesses that, alongside programs like the new curbside program, we need businesses to do their part to make the difference,” said Alex Singbeil, city waste reduction consultant. 

READ MORE: How will Lethbridge’s curbside recycling program fare in Canada’s changing industry?

The city will be granting a 90-day grace period when the program comes into effect in July, but with potential fines for recyclable materials found mixed into trash, local businesses have some concerns and many questions.

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“The big concern is definitely the initial cost,” said Movie Mill general manager Josh Mudryk. 

“In order to bring in just a simple four-step bin with your paper, your cans, your recycling… it’s a $450 bill. $450 might not seem like a lot for a lot of the big businesses but for the small businesses… even for us [it’s a lot].”

Another concern is with the public dumping their trash into large outdoor dumpsters, and whether the burden of those fines will fall on businesses.

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“You’ll see things get deposited that.. well, I can tell you this, we’re not throwing away mattresses and toilets,” Mudryk added. 

“But they find their way into our garbages.”

READ MORE: Lethbridge asks residents to be cautious with waste: ‘That shouldn’t go in either cart’

Many businesses in attendance at Thursday’s info session said they had already been sorting recycling for some time.

“We feel we’ve kind of got the jump already,” said DMT mechanical supervisor Keith Boschee. “But I feel sorry for some of the businesses downtown. They don’t have the room to recycle properly, and in some of the conversations at the meeting today, that was a concern.”

Construction companies and organizations like BILD see the shift as an opportunity to launch their own initiative.

“One of the things they’ve identified is lumber as one of those recyclable materials that is a large part of what’s going into our landfill,” said Bridget Mearns, BILD Lethbridge executive officer. 

“We as an association have taken that responsibility very seriously and we have designed a new environmental policy and program moving forward that we’ll be rolling out and releasing shortly.”

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The city’s next step will be to take a look at organics and composting, which is expected to come into play in 2021.