The Cape Coral City government is attempting to make recycling easier in the community. Currently, only property owners with a building worth more than a certain amount are required by law to get a permit to do so. Businesses are not exempt from the recycling requirement either. But now the City is looking to include residential lots if they have a building that is worth at least three hundred dollars.
Currently, the recycling tax in Florida continues to need approval from the state legislature. In Cape Coral, property owners of a residential building with an assessed value of at least two hundred dollars would see a hike in their annual property tax bill to contribute towards the state’s clean up of electronic waste. The rate increase is expected to be around three percent over the five-year period. Although officials are expecting the bulk of Cape Coral’s recycling goes towards making new computer chips, paper, metal, and glass for use in manufacturing, the overall figure will likely be much lower. This is because, as expected, most of the electronic waste going into the city’s recycling facility is sent out of town by large electronics companies.
Officials claim that this step is necessary to raise revenues for the upcoming fiscal year. However, environmental groups are blasting the move as another step to increase electronic waste across the state. In addition to raising fees and fines, electronic waste now has a physical destination. It can go to facilities that specialize in information and data destruction. These facilities have already got some support from local municipalities like Cape Coral, who is willing to cover the costs for the land.
While the federal government continues to focus on encouraging state and local governments to reduce the amount of electronic waste sent to states and counties for recycling, many businesses and households are taking matters into their own hands. Businesses have been forced to get creative when it comes to minimizing the amount of paper, plastic, metal, and glass that is going into their trash. For instance, restaurants and hotels, which are often booked during busy times, are using temporary bins or sandwich wraps instead of paper bags. Some Cape Coral residents have taken it upon themselves to go into businesses with printer cartridges and dispose of them there instead of throwing them in the garbage. Large retailers have also been known to recycle paper at their stores rather than throwing it in the trash, and small businesses are starting to follow suit.
At the present time, the Cape Coral city manager is looking into putting into place a special sales tax on electronics that would be aimed at encouraging businesses and households to make the effort to reduce the amount of electronic waste. Currently, the Florida sales tax does not include any electronic or data destruction items. However, officials are hopeful that the Fort Myers property tax, which covers the city’s six municipalities, may someday include electronic waste tax incentives. The city of Cape Coral owns and maintains six acres of commercial real estate. Officials expect that with an electronic waste tax incentive, business and households in the area will be encouraged to help minimize their electronic waste by switching to paperless or sensor technology.
In addition to a new sales tax incentive program in Florida, officials also hope that more governmental agencies and municipalities will begin to take similar actions. “We believe that every jurisdiction should look at how they’re handling their recycling and why they’re not doing so,” said Carol Pollock, communications director for the non-profit group, Touch Earth Solutions. “A paperless society makes no sense whatsoever.” Paper and ink are simply not biodegradable and must be disposed of in some way. In a paperless society, we’re left with fewer options for recycling.