July 1st was Canada’s Birthday. But do you know what else happened? Eco Fees were officially transferred to municipalities. Eco fees are the charges paid to recycle household electronics such as computers, light-bulbs and fertilizers. Unofficially they’ve been municipalities’ responsibility since September. Over the last 10 months it’s cost about $2 million.
They were first introduced in 2010, quickly eliminated following a backlash. The province has been covering the bill since. The ultimate goal of the program was to shift the burden back to the manufacturers. And according to the environment minister that remains the case.
Municipalities will be allowed to add them to property tax bills. By all rights it should cause a bit of a revolution among taxpayers. Eco fees are optional. Generally if you’re not buying an electronic product, you don’t pay them. With the way technology is these days light bulbs are lasting months, and batteries years with advances in rechargers. There could come a time when someone potentially goes 1 year or more without replacing a light bulb for instance. Is it really fair they should really pay someone else’s charges?
Take a town like Milton. The fastest-growing municipality in the country. With continued growth comes ongoing issues: roads that need upgrading/maintaining, new sporting facilities, new libraries. A new hospital that will need paying for. People hate tax increases and that’s exactly what this is. I think if most people had the option of paying for recycling, and using it for the hospital, we’d pick the hospital. Municipalities are stretched to the breaking point to pay for everything, and keep taxes low. Adding Eco Fees onto that isn’t that fair
I know what you’re going to say. We all have to be responsible for our environment. And I get that. But aren’t there other ways to do this? Like say giving a small tax cut to companies who use less packaging? A larger one to those that go completely biodegradable. Maybe you start with something simple like asking manufacturers who ship things in large-scale boxes to make sure a certain percentage of their boxes are made from recycled cardboard.
There are definitely other ways to do this. Why not try them?