pop can tax ontario

Ontario to introduce new 'pop can tax' this spring

Grocery costs are about to go up even more, if ever so slightly, this spring for Ontario soda consumers who (rightfully) prefer canned pop to bottled pop (unless fountain pop is an option.)

The Toronto Star reported on Friday that "an organization backed by some of the largest food and beverage companies in Canada" will be handing down a new "recycling fee" to residents of the province in April, adding between one and three cents to the cost of every non-alcoholic canned beverage purchased.

If all goes as planned, this levy — panned by critics as a "pop can tax" — will go into effect on April 1, 2023.

"With soaring inflation and high living costs, the last thing Ontario taxpayers need is another tax," said The Canadian Taxpayers Federation (CTF) in a statement responding to The Star's report this afternoon, panning Premier Doug Ford for allowing a group called the Canadian Beverage Container Recycling Association to "nickel and dime hardworking Ontarians."

While many are calling the forthcoming fee a "tax," the star clarifies that it's actually a charge that will likely be levied upon consumers as part of sweeping changes to Ontario's recycling system that are set to take effect in April.

"The Container Recycling Fee (CRF) is the brainchild of the Canadian Beverage Container Recycling Association (CBCRA), an industry-funded group that counts representatives of Coca-Cola, Tim Hortons and bottling giant Refresco, among others, on its board of directors," reports Richard Warnica.

"The 'pop can tax,' as one industry insider has dubbed it, will likely be applied by retailers at checkout and appear on receipts as a separate charge, like the HST."

Not to be confused with a deposit return model, where consumers are able to return empty containers for cash (think The Beer Store,) this new non-refundable "Container Recycling Fee" will see consumers pay a levy of one cent on aluminum cans, two-cents on small PET plastic bottles, and three cents on all other sealed non-alcoholic beverages.

"Technically, it won't be the CBCRA charging the levy. The organization will be billing producers who will have the option of passing their costs onto retailers who can then charge consumers," says Warnica.

"But in practice, in other jurisdictions, the end result has almost always been the same: a point-of-sale levy. And industry experts, as well as the CBCRA itself, expect the same thing to happen here."

CTF Ontario Director Jay Goldberg pans the move as "a money grab, pure and simple."

"While other provinces have can and bottle deposits, this is akin to a tax because consumers have no way to get their money back," he said on Friday. "Ford is allowing large corporations to impose a punitive new fee on Ontarians, with the corporations getting the financial benefit."

Lead photo by James Yarema

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