Incentives will do more to encourage recycling

Providing consumers with some form of refund would increase recycling

We just bought a new rice cooker and were surprised to find an environmental fee of $2.25 tacked on.

This charge is apparently levied under something called “Unplugged: the Small Appliance Recycling Program” introduced by the B.C. government on Oct. 1 last year.

The idea is to keep appliances out of landfills, and to encourage people to return their old appliances to a recycling centre.

Sadly, modern appliances are now made such that the consumer has little chance to repair them. In olden times, a malfunctioning kettle or iron could be opened up and repaired. Now, most items have a label such as ‘no user serviceable items inside,’ thus encouraging disposal.

The previous recycling program had people pay upon disposal of an item; now they charge you when you buy the item.

If the intention of the new program is to have people bring items to a recycling facility, then the consumer should be tempted with a refund of at least some of the environmental fee, similar to returning bottles to a depot. Alas, this is not the case, and people originally unlikely to visit a recycling facility now have no more incentive to do so.

Roel Hurkens


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