November 28, 2011

Eco Fees or Eco Scam?

Confused about the new “eco fees” in Ontario?

If you think the Canadian government is collecting the new “eco fees” to help the environment, you’d be wrong.  The company collecting these new “eco fees” is actually a private company called Stewardship Ontario. This private “non-profit” company called Stewardship Ontario has lobbied to enact new eco legislation that grants them and their clients the right to collect new “eco fees” from consumers.

How Eco Fees Work
Stewardship Ontario solicits businesses, such as Costco and Best Buy, to join their “eco” program with the idea that Stewardship Ontario will provide common “green packaging” for its members. This common packaging service will supposedly reduce waste and help the environment. Stewardship Ontario charges their members, which are called “stewards”, for this common eco packaging service. The stewards (i.e. Costco, Best Buy, etc.) then have the option to incur the cost of joining Stewardship Ontario’s eco program or they may “optionally” pass along an “eco fee” onto their customers. This basically means that steward companies can now charge their customers an additional fee to pay because they have joined forces with Stewardship Ontario.

Where does the money go?
Eco fees do not actually go to the government nor do they go towards “saving the environment”. Eco fees go directly to this private company called “Stewardship Ontario”, and because Stewardship Ontario is a private company, they can do whatever they want with the money they collect.  This private company has basically lobbied law makers to create “eco laws” that benefit them. Canadians now have to pay more for the exact same items because of “eco fees”, under the promise to “save the environment”.

How do eco fees affect you?
Since Costco is part of Stewardship Ontario, let’s examine eco fees in buying a new TV from Costco. Costco charges a $25 eco fee, which means we pay 5% more on a $500 TV. Since Costco has joined forces with Stewardship Ontario, they are now “legally” allowed to pass along a new “eco fee” directly to us (or they may choose not to). Well, if we purchased an LG TV for example, and LG is manufactured in China as are virtually all TVs, this LG TV ships to Canada and US already pre-packaged. 

So, how exactly did Stewardship Ontario provide “eco packaging” services that justified our new $25 eco fee? The obvious answer is, they didn’t. Stewardship Ontario along with its members, have basically figured out how to impose a new “tax” disguised as an “eco fee” on a wide range of products. We now have the pleasure of paying more money for the exact same items in the name of “saving the environment”.

Eco Scam
It should be clear by now that “eco fees” are a well-orchestrated scam riding the wave of “save the environment”.  Politicians work for the highest bidder. Politicians need your vote, but they do not enact legislation on your behalf. Politicians write and enact legislation that is sponsored by rich and powerful lobby groups. These lobbyists groups wield immense power over politicians by way of campaign contributions, grants, donations and promises of lucrative post-political private sector jobs. 

Yes, regular citizens can organize, perhaps sign petitions to enact legislation that supports a cause, but the vast majority of legislation is enacted because powerful lobby groups petitioned politicians to enact laws on their behalf, not on ours. These laws serve the best interests of business, not citizens and certainly not the environment. Now that we understand “eco fees” a little bit better, have a look at some of the people involved with “Stewardship Ontario". It should be no surprise to find many people working for Stewardship Ontario are in fact lobbyists:

Board of Directors of Stewardship Ontario
  • Justin Sherwood – President, Refreshment Canada (Lobby group)
  • Jill Carman – Director, General Mills Canada
  • John Coyne – VP, Unilever Canada
  • Rosanne Angotti – Chief Counsel, Kraft Canada
  • Dianne Brisebois – CEO, Retail Council of Canada (Lobby group)
  • Stephanie Jones – VP, Canadian Restaurant and Foodservices Association (Lobby group)
  • Tamara Burns – VP, Sears Canada Ashley Dent – VP, Canadian Council of Grocery Distributors (Lobby group)
  • Vaughn Crofford – President,Canadian Hardware and Housewares Manufacturing Association (Lobby group)
  • John Hinds – CEO, Canadian Newspaper Association (Lobby group)
  • David Bois – Manager, Home Hardware Stores Ltd.
  • Shannon Coombs – President, Canadian Consumer Specialty Products Association (Lobby group)
  • Jim Quick – President, Canadian Paint and Coatings Association (Lobby group)
  • Mark Reed – Director, Pennzoil-Quaker State Canada Kent Hatton – Director, Energizer Canada
Summary
A politicians’ real job is to convince the public that a particular policy or law is actually good for them, or good for something the public cares about (e.g. environment). They use many tactics to convince (i.e. trick) the public into believing bad policies are good and needed.  Fear is one of the most powerful tactics used (i.e. homeland security to fight terrorism, carbon taxes to fight global warming, etc.). Politicians say one thing and do another and ultimately care about their careers and in keeping and obtaining power. This is what the eco movement is all about to these people. It’s never been about the environment, it’s always been about how to make more money and gain more power.

Links to research further:

Stewardship Ontario

Eco-Fees in Ontario « The Daily Bayonet

Eco-Fees 2: Stewardship Ontario « The Daily Bayonet

Stewardship Ontario – Let’s Dig Deeper | Wind Concerns Ontario

2010-07-14 Eco tax scam, sham, bam ... bad public policy: Walter Robinson

Eco fee sham | Toronto & GTA | News | Toronto Sun

Ontario News: Eco-fee agency says levies could be buried in price - thestar.com