Are Environmental Tax Levies Just Another Money Grab?

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Recycling Electronics

About 10 years ago, I went to Future Shop to buy a new computer monitor. I eventually ended up with an Acer LCD – one which I am extremely happy with to this day. However, I wasn’t too thrilled at the checkout line when I was told I would need to shell out another $12 due to an environmental levy on electronics. I shouldn’t have been too surprised as I had been reading about the proposed legislation, but it kind of hit me given that I was at that point actually experiencing it.

My problem with the levy isn’t so much as having to pay it (although on the purchase it was roughly around 10% – the monitor was $120) but rather when I asked the person at the checkout line if someone from the government would properly dispose of it when it is no longer working I was told I would need to bring it in to a recycling depot—not even designated as a government one!

Like others, I felt this was a farce and just another government money grab when they don’t even do anything but are collecting money for it! At the very least, there should be an incentive given to people to recycle, similar to paying deposits on beverage bottles, or by making electronics recycling depots more accessible (the least of which should be the place where you purchased the item from). But instead, one would need to find a recycler who would take it for scrap metal or something of the like as to what I am currently aware of.

Fundamentally speaking, I agree with the levy if it would help discourage people from constantly buying new electronic products as they become available. However, due to the alarming rates of new technologies’ depreciation, this hardly seems to be the case. Often times, it is cheaper for people to buy the new gadgets than to fix a broken one, and in doing so they most likely throw out the older ones due to a lack of conveniently accessible recycling options. In this case, the environmental levy may have no real deterrent value and doesn’t achieve what it is supposed to – other than filling government coffers.

On a personal level, I am an extremely late adopter of technology and generally quite happy with older stuff as long as it continues to work. But with this being said, I find it really disappointing that there seems to be a massive missed opportunity over here where money from the environmental levy could be used to create green jobs by having more accessible recycling depots within our communities, as well as a possible collection system where trucks can make scheduled pick ups in our local neighborhood to collect items, saving people both their time and their gas, and thereby definitely justifying the environmental levy.