Monday, July 14, 2008

Ontario Adds Fee for Electronics Recycling

Ontario is set to add a green levy to televisions and computers sold in the province as a way to offset the cost of recycling electronic equipment that is commonly dumped when outdated.

"The goal is to ensure that this material does not end up in our landfill site," said Environment Minister John Gerretsen. "The main reason for this is because there are hazardous materials involved; we're talking lead and mercury and other materials."

Mr. Gerretsen yesterday approved the Waste Electrical and Electronic Equipment Program, which includes per-item fees on the two major electronic purchases, as well as computer monitors and printers, mice and keyboards.

The levies, $10 for televisions and about $13 for computers, will be billed to Ontario producers and importers beginning on April 1, 2009. Mr. Gerretsen said it was up to the manufacturers to decide if the cost would be absorbed or passed on to consumers.

The program's income, expected to be about $62-million in the first year, will go to Waste Diversion Ontario, a non-Crown corporation that operates waste-diversion programs for the government, in order to fund the collection and recycling of outdated and unwanted electronics.

"The cost to recycle, the cost to manage responsibly, is higher than the cost to dispose. The way the current marketplace works is there's a disincentive to do the right thing," said executive director Glenda Gies. Ms. Gies said they will implement pick-up programs and expand the number of drop-off locations, from the current 167 to about 650 locations across the province.

A second phase of green fees will seek provincial approval next summer, seeking similar fees for the production and import of cellphones and BlackBerrys, answering machines, radios, cameras, DVD players and stereo equipment.

The ministry says that by the fifth year of the program, it expects 61% of Ontario's electronic waste to be reused or recycled, more than double the current rate of 27%.

According to the ministry, households and businesses throw out about 90,000 tonnes of old computers, printers and televisions each year, which could grow to 123,000 tonnes within five years -- about four million desktop computers, 1.5 million laptops and 2.2 million televisions.

Progressive Conservative environment critic Toby Barrett slammed the "electronics tax" yesterday as an expensive initiative that would not make the province any greener.

Recycling fees on electronics are already in place in British Columbia, Alberta, Saskatchewan and Nova Scotia.



The environmental levies set for April 1, 2009 - $10.07 per television - $2.14 per laptop computer - $13.44 per desktop computer - $12.03 per monitor - $5.05 per printer - 32¢ per mouse or keyboard.