Under the Electrical and Electronic Equipment (EEE) Regulation, businesses located in Ontario can add environmental handling fees (EHF) to certain electronic products. The EEE Regulation was established to promote the collection, reuse, refurbishment, or recycling of electronics and reduce their environmental impact. Yet, while EHF fees are meant to help offset the costs of recycling products for businesses, consumers are often confused by the added costs. Here’s what you should know about the current regulation and applicable fees.
How the EEE Regulation Works
The EEE Regulation holds manufacturers and retailers accountable and financially responsible for recycling or refurbishing electronics at the end of their lifespan. Manufacturers and retailers can either establish their own recycling programs in-house, or partner with an electronics recycling company. The regulation also allows businesses to pass recycling costs onto their customers, either by incorporating them into the price of their products or as an additional fee.
While this aspect of the regulation allows for businesses to comply with recycling requirements while offsetting their additional costs, it can create confusion for consumers. In addition to the fact that fees may either be factored into a product’s price or added separately, there is no standard fee for electronic products. According to the Resource Productivity & Recovery Authority (RPRA), which oversees the EEE Regulation, “The amount of the fee charged is decided by the business and must reflect the actual cost of recycling that product.” When the recycling cost is built into the price of the product rather than listed as a separate EHF, however, consumers may question why an electronic item may appear to have no EHF in one store while a different retailer charges a supplementary fee for the same product.
Which Electronics Are Included?
The RPRA lists the following equipment as eligible for EHFs:
- Printers and cartridges
- Telephones and cell phones
- Display devices, such as computer monitors
- Video gaming devices
- Radios and stereos
- Speakers, audio recording equipment, and headphones
- Drones with audio or visual recording equipment
- Certain IT devices, such as external hard drives
- Handheld point-of-sale devices
- Charging equipment and cables
How Much Can You Charge in Environmental Fees?
Prior to January 1, 2021, there were set fees for electronics determined by category.
As of 2018, the fees were as follows:
- Computer peripherals (including mice, modems, and keyboards): $0.75
- Portable and desktop computers: $1.00 and $1.40, respectively
- Non-cellular telephones and answering machines: $1.50
- Display devices: $7.00 to $28.00, depending on their size
- Desktop and floor-standing multi-function devices such as printers and fax machines: $2.50 and $25.00, respectively
After January 1, 2021, the RPRA no longer determines precise fees, so businesses are on their own when it comes to determining appropriate EHFs. Producers are now also individually responsible for recycling their products, instead of relying on a single recycling program.
With these factors in mind, businesses will want to consider how their fees compare to that of their competitors. For instance, some consumers are reporting charges that vary widely: one retailer might charge $30 more for a TV to account for the EHFs, while another might sell the same model for less, only to charge the EHF as an added fee at the time of the transaction. Moreover, fees may also come as a surprise to consumers because retailers were not required to collect EHFs for more than two years previously.
It’s therefore important to closely analyze your business’s recycling strategy to determine a reasonable fee. Factors such as transportation, processing and repacking, and handling steps such as dismantling, data wiping, and refurbishing will need to be assessed and built into the cost of the product or added as a separate fee. To promote transparency, businesses might also post updates regarding EHFs or price increases so shoppers know what to expect.
Quantum offers a range of solutions for producers, including reuse and recycling programs with transparent pricing, to help you determine what fees, if any, to pass along to your customers. Find out more about our options for handling end-of-life electronics here.