Even I don't always agree with my opinion


Recycle Taxes

Posted June 21, 2009 by jim young in Business

– jim young

I recently bought a new printer at Staples. Before even going to the store I did my homework and checked models and prices to ensure I was getting the best value for my money.

There should have been no surprises, so when I made my purchase, along with a few other items, I didn’t really pay much attention to the total amount I was charged. That was my bad.

When I got home I checked my bill to discover I was also charged a “recycle tax”.

I have a problem with that on 2 levels.

1) No one at Staples advised me prior to my purchase, that I was going to be charged this tax. (As I said, I didn’t even realise I was charged this until I got home.)
2) What the fuck is a recycle tax?

The first part is an issue I have with Staples. The second part is what I am going to discuss here.

What the fuck is a recycle tax?

Now I like to think I at least attempt to be environmentally friendly. I didn’t litter the highways long before it was fashionable not to and even before the word “recycle” became a household word. It just seemed to be the responsible thing to do.

And I’m not one of these guys that will just toss something the first time I have a problem with it. I usually make every attempt to repair rather than replace anything I own, much to my wife’s chagrin, I might add.

I just think it’s a waste to do otherwise.

And I even understand there’s a cost to dispose of items. But I already pay for those costs.

Yes I get “free” garbage pick up for my household garbage. But it’s not really “free” – my taxes pay for that.

Even so I am allowed an allowance of only 2 bags a week. Anything more is not covered by my taxes and I incur a “user fee”.

For items that are too big for weekly pickup, I can just take a run to the dump – oops that’s “landfill site” now, to be politically correct.

Once again, I pay for that service through taxes and even then I have an annual allowance and must pay user fees if I exceed that allowance.

I also have to pay to have a refrigerator, freezer or air conditioner disposed of.

But all these fees are charged at the time of disposal. Why am I now being charged up front when I buy a new item to dispose of it at some point in the future?

Is the government afraid I will keep these items until after I’m dead just to get out of paying for their disposal? (Okay, based on my past history of hoarding maybe the government just isn’t being paranoid on that issue. But you can be damn sure they will take it out of my estate.)

And what if I sell it as a used item? Why should I have to pay for recycling an item that someone else will be recycling in the future? In fact aren’t I recycling that item for the benefit of our environment already?

What recourse will I have to recoup this up-front charge in the future should it be the “straw the break’s the camel’s back” and puts me over my annual “dump” allowance?

What consideration is provided to someone like me that will use an item until it is truly no longer useable vs my neighbour that will dispose of his every time a new model becomes available?

But even more importantly – why is our government taxing us to recycle electronics when free enterprise is already willing to do so at a profit?

Did you know that in most municipalities it is illegal to take items from blue boxes? Once an item hits a blue box, it becomes the property of the contractor that is going to pick it up. Guess why? They are going to make a profit on recycling those items.

There are programs that will take your cell phones and even used printer cartridges off your hands to feed the hungry. Think they are philanthropists? Guess again. They are profiting from recycling these items and then reaping the rewards again with tax breaks for donating to a charitable cause.

Apple, Dell, Epson, Gateway, HP, IBM, Lexmark and NEC all have computer recycling programs. It would be nice to think they are just being responsible corporate citizens but more likely they are making a profit at it.

And even if they are not. Why is the government taxing us up front to dispose of items when there are companies obviously willing to cover those costs on our behalf?

Whether it’s disguised as a tax, surcharge or user fee – no one should have to pay for the same thing twice.

They say that nothing is certain except for death and taxes. So I am adding a codicil to my will. I will charge the executors of my will to ensure that if the government tries to add a “recycle tax” to my coffin – they damn well better bury someone with me in it. Preferably a young, blonde, female.

– 30 –



    I just wanted to comment on recycling. My niece has accused me of not being nice to the environment. Which occasionally I am guilty of. However, the same girl drives a 6 cylinder engine car & drinks water from water bottles. Something like the pot calling the kettle black.

    What I really want to point out is that my Grandmother was the ultimate re-cycler. Nothing went in the garbage. All table scraps went to the compost heap for the garden. All bread wrappers, bags, twist ties were saved for storing something else in. No tupperware back then. Worn out clothing re-vamped to look like something new. Every nail was saved and hammered out straight to be used again. My Grandfather even drank the dregs of the teapot cold. She was a teenager during the Great Depression and that’s when people really learned to reduce, recyle & re-use. Some of these old folks could teach us a thing or two about recycling.


    Good point, Donna.

    I also remember, as a young boy, getting hand-me down clothes from cousins I didn’t even know I had.

    I don’t think too many do that anymore.

    Most kids today have to have designer clothes. And they won’t even wear designer clothes if they come from Value Village.

    What they don’t seem to realize is that everything they buy brand new – 24 hours later – it’s used.


    No kidding! My child will not where used clothing unless they come from someone he knows. When he was real little I could buy them at garage sales, bring them home wash them and put them in his drawer & he didn’t know any better. I forgot about hand me downs too. Clothes were made better back then. I can go through old family photos over time where the same home made sweater shows up on 3 or 4 kids.

    My dad worked in a shop where they had a rag bag that I guess was disguarded clothing. He brought home a great big melton cloth shirt that my mom made into overalls for one of my brothers.

    Maybe we all just have too much money these days or we spend it on all the wrong things.

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