Ontario consumers have begun seeing a new ‘eco fee’ added on to their supermarket charges at point of sale. The fee is for recycling certain products purchased which include dish soap, batteries, cleaning products, pharmaceuticals, fluorescent tubes, bulbs, fire extinguishers and all aerosol containers reports MarketWatch Blog.
The eco fee has been called a “tax grab,” but Ontario provincial government officials say it’s not a tax, according to the blog.
Stewardship Ontario, the industry group that oversees mandated recycling programs, says the eco fees are not mandatory or a tax, reports the blog. The group says retailers have the option to pass the eco fees along to consumers that they must pay to Stewardship Ontario to recycle many products.
According to the Toronto Star, Stewardship Ontario is urging companies to bury eco fees in a product’s price so consumers are “none the wiser.”
Environment Minister John Gerretsen said in the Toronto Star article that the recycling fees are “not a tax grab” and “these are fees that are being charged by the stewardship councils to make sure that the products are being recycled properly.”
In response, Progressive Conservative MPP Lisa MacLeod (Ottawa West-Nepean) said in the article that between the 13 percent harmonized sales tax that also took effect July 1 and the “eco-tax,” Ontarians are paying higher levies on more than 10,000 different goods and services.
Tory MPP Christine Elliott told the Toronto Sun that some tax and constitutional experts say it’s not constitutional. But an official told the newspaper in an e-mail that it is legal as long as they comply with the Consumer Protection Act.