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Three weeks. Less than it takes a discarded apple core to disintegrate. That’s how long it took Stewardship Ontario’s current eco fee plan to fail.
Environment Minister John Gerretsen’s tail-betwixt-legs pullback of the eco fee program Tuesday (July 20) is being described as a 90-day rethink.
Under pressure from a growing tax revolt, the minister is now assuring the public that dinging consumers for the recycling of everyday toxic products will not be in the revised plan.
What previously successful enviro programs – like the $5 tire tax – had in common, says John Bennett, Sierra Club Canada’s exec director, is that “they educated the public.”
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Canadian Tire has admitted its stores have been charging consumers too much for eco fees since they came into effect on July 1. The company says it was the result of a computer glitch.
The Sierra Club of Canada says the program is important because hazardous material that isn't disposed of properly can become a health and environmental risk.
"Our water waste management systems aren't designed to capture those (hazardous materials) and process them out. (The systems) are about sanitizing, so they tend to go right through the system and end up in our drinking water, so we are drinking a watered down version of it," said John Bennett, executive director of the Sierra Club.
The province and major retailers are set to launch a five-year program to curb the use of plastic shopping bags in Alberta, a voluntary project that won't include a legislated ban that some argue is necessary.
The new program will have reduction targets and be industry led, according to the Alberta director of the Retail Council of Canada, one of the associations involved in the project.
"We would like to see stronger measures being put forth that are comparable to Ireland and other countries, where there is a legislative insurance that these bans and reductions occur," said Sheryle Carlson, with the Prairie chapter of the Sierra Club.