A proposal by Tire Stewardship Ontario (TSO) to manage scrap tires through a collection and disposal scheme went down in flames last week after various media outlets went public with the plan, some characterizing it as a “new tire tax.”
The plan was to be funded via $200-million in advance disposal fees. TSO had recommended charging a levy of four dollars per passenger tire and six dollars per truck tire.
This “tire tax” characterization — spurred by opponents of the plan — conjured up memories of Ontario’s old tire tax scheme; a famous rip off in which millions of dollars collected for tire recycling simply vanished into provincial coffers.
Liberal Premier Dalton McGuinty, still smarting from his earlier break from a key election promise not to raise taxes, clearly recognized than a tire fee would look like yet another tax, and play into the hands of opposition parties.
So he made himself very clear on Friday, telling reporters: “There’ll be no tire tax. Everybody get that one? There will be no tire tax.”
Waste Diversion Ontario had recommended the TSO plan, which is now essentially dead in the water. The setback is considered embarrassing for Environment Minister Leona Dombrowsky, who was rumored to be supportive of the scheme, yet was naieve about the potential political fallout of a new “tire tax.” Industry observers say this development could set a precedent for other draft product stewardship plans whose advance disposal fees could be construed as another form of “tax.”
NOTE: The June/July edition of Solid Waste & Recycling magazine will feature an article on an alternative scrap tire stewardship plan proposed by independent tire retailers, tire collectors and ENGOs.