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New electronics green fee in Quebec starts; taxes TVs, printers

By Andrew Moran     Oct 1, 2012 in Politics
Montreal - In order to pay for a new recycling program for electronics, the province of Quebec has introduced a new environmental fee that will be applied to the purchases of televisions, laptops and cell phones.
A lot of Quebec consumers were unaware of the green fees Monday, which has prompted many businesses that sell electronics to issue pamphlets for its customers explaining the government’s new tax.
The fee will be applied to all electronics, including televisions, printers, laptops and cellphones. According to the Canadian Press, acquiring a new television will cost an additional $40, while buying a printer will be an extra $8.75.
The tax will vary on each purchase. It will be based on the product’s difficulty for recycling and the price of the product.
Other electronic gadgets, such as video gaming consoles and stereo systems, will be taxed a certain percentage as of July 2013.
The purpose of the charge is to help pay for a new recycling system for electronics throughout the province.
Meanwhile, consumer advocacy groups argue that the tax should be applied to the manufacturer of the product and not the consumer and that the program will be unsuccessful in reducing pollutants.
“Rather than taxing the consumer, any system that's put in place should try to force the producer, [i.e. the polluter], to pay for what it is that they produce that is polluting the environment and causing them to reduce that pollutant and hence reduce their cost,” said Mel Fruitman, vice-president of the Consumers' Association of Canada, in an interview with CBC News.
In 2010, the Ontario government scrapped a similar program that added eco fees on thousands of household products. As soon as the tax was rolled out, retailers and consumers immediately complained that it was confusing and "sneaky." The fee ranged from a few cents to a few dollars; one cent for 59-millilitres of hand sanitizer and $6.66 for a fire extinguisher.
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