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'Eco fee' won't match private efforts

During this National Environment Week, here’s a look at how Ontario’sgovernment will soon move ahead on its plan to deal with so-called‘e-waste’ — discarded computers and other electronics.


During this National Environment Week, here’s a look at how Ontario’s government will soon move ahead on its plan to deal with so-called ‘e-waste’ — discarded computers and other electronics.

All that remains is for cabinet to green light the plan. The first thing will be a new fee on TVs, computers, monitors, printers and fax machines. This is for phase one; eventually all technology will pay a fee.

Manufacturers, or the first importer of record, will pay the fee and then decide whether to tack it onto the price the consumer will pay. Fees range from a couple of dollars for a laptop to perhaps $12 for a TV set.

The money is ostensibly to pay for a system to properly recycle the products and make sure toxic material doesn’t end up in landfills. But Kevin Gaudet, Ontario director of the Canadian Taxpayers Federation, says this is just another tax by the McGuinty government and it won’t remove e-waste from landfills because there is no incentive for consumers to turn the stuff in when its useful life ends.

It not like taking your beer bottles back and getting your deposit. You pay up front and then decide if you want to take the time to find a drop off point and turn in the technology.

Gaudet also believes the annual fee will bring in up to $201 million per year; the government says it will be about $62 million.

Bo Brodie started Computer Recyclers of Ottawa 15 years ago. He says the new program will make it harder for companies like his who have developed a tech recycling industry. In fact business, is getting better – better prices for materials like copper and gold means he can take most computers at no charge to the consumer and he has lowered fees for other items. The province is trying to deal with his concerns. If Brodie becomes one of what’s expected to be several hundred approved drop-off points, he’s eligible for an incentive of $165 per tonne and the province will pay all shipping and processing costs for whatever he collects.

Ontario’s private recyclers currently handle about 170,000 tonnes of ewaste. The provincial plan, by comparison, is conservative, at 90,000 tonnes in year one, rising to 123,000 tonnes by year five.

So after collecting tens of millions in eco-fees, the province doesn’t even expect in five years to match what’s currently being done privately to divert the materials.

Bernard Courtois, of the Information Technology Association of Canada (ITAC), says the plan will bring organization and certainty to what’s done with e-waste. Three other provinces have similar programs and are expanding them with industry taking the lead in co-operation with government.

PAUL’S WEBSITE OF THE WEEK:

ontarioelectronicstewardship.ca.

Here you can see the current details on Ontario’s e-waste recycle program.

This Sunday one of the stories on TECH NOW will be a look at the latest and nastiest in online gossip sites. And don’t forget to check our website ctvottawa.ca.

 
 
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