Ontario set to scrap eco-tax on consumer electronics

Nov 26, 2015 | News

Currently the Government of Ontario places a 7 cent tax on the sale of smartphones.  (Photo Courtesy of Flickr Creative Commons)

Currently the Government of Ontario places a seven cent tax on the sale of smartphones. (Photo/Flickr)

Travis Kingdon and Amy Wallace

Kathleen Wynne’s Liberal government has set out to eliminate eco-fees currently placed on consumer electronics in Ontario.

It was reported by the Toronto Star that the Environment and Climate Change Minister, Glen Murray, was set to introduce his “Waste-Free Ontario” act Thursday.

The new act would do away with the eco-fees that show up on Ontarians receipts after purchasing personal electronics.

Murray’s new act would also phase out Waste Diversion Ontario, the company that oversees Ontario’s recycling programs, according to a report from CBC News.

Environmental handling fees are charges placed on consumer electronics.

“It covers all of the costs involved in recycling the product – from the collection site through to transporting it to the processor, through to dismantling it into its component elements,” said Melanie Wilde, Executive Director of the Ontario Electronic Stewardship.

Wilde’s group is not-for-profit organization in charge of the electronics recycling program in Ontario, including eco-fees.

The new legislation will mandate that these fees will have to be built into the sticker price, according to the Toronto Star.

The Recycling Council of Ontario has not seen the new legislation but, they have hopes of what it will look like.

Currently, producers form organizations that assign fees to consumers, the council hopes that will change in the new legislation.  The organization hopes that new legislation will require producers take responsibility for bearing the cost of recycling e-waste.

“We want the new legislation…to say it’s not these groups responsibility, it’s the producers responsibility and they have to essentially integrate the cost of recycling into the cost of bringing their individual product to the marketplace,” said Jo-Anne St. Godard, the council’s executive director.

St. Godard’s group believes that changing both consumer and producer behaviour is the only way to improve Ontario’s dismal recycling rate.

“What we continue to advocate for is a multi-faceted approach where we’re encouraging a behaviour change of consumers,”said St. Godard.

The province, according to a Toronto Star report, has one of the worse waste diversion rates in Canada, about 25 per cent.

“We’re encouraging businesses to look at the way they produce and utilize materials,”

The current fees range from seven cents on cellphones to $39.50 for a 46″ TV.

Eco fees in Ontario were last increased in 2013, when the tax on large TVs rose to their current price from $27.60

“We follow a specific cost recovery formula that sets the fees for the product categories, which is to cover the cost of recycling those products,” said Wilde.

Currently, the eco handling fee charges are added on to the price upon purchasing and appear as an extra charge on a receipt; they are not included in the sticker price.

However, the government does offer an option where the cost can be included in the displayed ticket at the discretion of the retailer.

Murray’s new legislation it is not come into effect for at least two years.