What is an Environmental Handling Fee?

 What is an environmental handling fee?

An Environmental Handling Fee (EHF), or eco-fee, is considered the “cost of doing good”. It’s applied on the sale of all new electronic products. The EHF is neither a tax nor a refundable deposit. However, it varies from item to item depending on the actual cost of recycling the materials that make up the electronic product. During checkout, you may notice the EHF if you purchased products in the electronic recycling program. The eco-fee is also refundable if you return the product according to the applicable policy.

All revenue generated from the program is used to finance the recovery and recycling of included products once they reach the end of their useful life. The funds are used to cover the costs involved in the safe and responsible recycling of electronics. An EHF may be used for collecting, transporting, or administration of the recycling and disposal program for e-waste or products containing substances that are hazardous to the environment.

An EHF is administered by approved electronic recycling programs in each province in an effort to keep reclaimable waste out of landfills and protect the environment. This fee is not remitted to the government, but rather to non-profit organizations that run the recycling programs. That said, the eco-fee is taxable since it’s added to the product retail price on a customer invoice before taxes.

Other Things to Note About Eco-Fees

Here are a few things to keep in mind about environmental handling fees:

  • The word “visible” can sometimes be added to an eco-fee, implying that the fee has been added to the product retail price prior to taxes, and will appear on the customer invoice. As a result, the customer has to pay a surcharge at the cash register to cover the eco-fee applicable on the participating product.
  • The regulated electronic products that are covered by an eco-fee, and the applicable fee, vary by province. Please check the eco-fee table of your province to view the list of covered products and the corresponding eco-fee.
  • The amount charged as an eco-fee is determined by the organization that manages the recovery and recycling programs of products covered by provincial regulations. So if you’re charged an eco-fee when purchasing regulated products, it’s usually to comply with provincial laws, finance recovery, and recycling programs for those products.
  • The eco-fee can be changed or updated by the organization that manages the recovery and recycling programs of products covered by provincial regulations depending on changes to the electronic recycling costs of participating products. Program members or merchants must comply with the eco-fee updates and make the necessary changes.
  • In case of changes to the eco-fee, program members inform their customers using store displays near cash registers, or in the aisles where regulated products are placed.
  • To recycle products covered by an eco-fee, such as lamps, batteries, and paint, you simply need to check at the service counter or electronic recycling service section of your store. But for other covered products, you should visit your provincial recycling program’s website for more information on drop-off points.
  • Although the government doesn’t collect the money as part of its general revenue, the province still benefits financially through collection of harmonized sales tax on the eco-fees.
  • Battery recycling is not part of the program. Instead, it pays for itself without the eco-fee thanks to the value of lead. Other products that don’t carry eco-fees include mobile phones and pharmaceuticals.

How much are you paying for eco-fees on participating products?

Unless you look at your receipt or invoice closely, most consumers are not aware that they are paying an environmental handling fee. The amount is usually cents for cans and pop bottles, a couple of dollars for blenders and coffee grinders, and $5–$10 for larger electronics like big microwaves or desktop computers. The programs try to keep the eco-fees as low as possible so consumers don’t feel the pinch during tough economic times.

One of the challenges that these companies face is deciding the amount to charge for the increasingly diverse range of packaging types. For instance, products that appear similar, such as mixed paper, box board, and corrugated cardboard, have different eco-fees. The pricing model is quite complex, considering that a water bottle may require separate fees on the bottle, the cap, the label, and the packaging (cardboard or plastic film), while a box of cereal may require separate fees for the bag inside and the packaging box.

But many of the fees are less than one cent, so the consumer may never realize that they’re helping to conserve the environment by contributing financially to electronics recycling.

For more information about getting rid of your e-waste responsibly, call eCycle Solutions toll free at (888) 945-2611 or contact us here.