Introduction of Pay-By-Weight refuse explained
31st May, 2016
Changes to domestic waste collection are just around the corner. With three categories of waste and minimum charges being introduced for some kinds of waste, there is some confusion about what the new changes will mean for householders. Mindy O’ Brien, coordinator of sustainable resource use campaigning organisation VOICE Ireland, explains the changes and also gives tips on how to reduce your waste and your bills.
Our waste regime is about to be changed dramatically. Instead of paying by lift or by bag, we are now going to be charged by weight. This change reflects the thinking behind the ‘polluter pays’ principal where we pay for the pollution we create and it is anticipated that the majority of people will not pay more than they are currently unless they fill up their black bins.
As of the 1 st of July this year, your waste management company will change its charging structure which will be different for each company as they are private and competing for your business. However, they may not charge less than
11c/kg for your residual waste (black bin)
6c/kg for your organic waste (brown bin for food and garden waste)
Initially, the government imposed a 2c/kg charge for recyclables, but due to complaints from numerous TDs, the new Minister for Housing, Planning and Local Government, Simon Coveney has removed this charge.
Each bin has a chip that records the weight of the bin which is calculated when the truck lifts the bin. Companies may also impose a standing fee, but that is dependent on the company. You may have already noticed that your waste bills have been recording the amount of waste you are currently generating as a baseline.
This new pricing policy favours sustainable behaviour by setting more penal charges for waste destined for incineration or landfill and more favourable charges for recyclables and organics. As food waste is very heavy because of its high water content, it makes sense to keep it out of your black bin and into your brown bin, where it is turned into compost.
Under this new statute, waste haulers cannot mix waste that is source segregated at kerbside. For example, they may not put recyclables in with the contents of the black bin or brown bins and then state that they will sort back at their waste facility. This is against the law. However, many waste trucks have separate sections in the back so that they can collect two, sometimes three, types of waste at the same time. If you ever have concerns about your waste hauler’s practices, don’t hesitate to ask the drivers about how their truck works or call the company with concerns. Your different bins must be collected at least once a fortnight.
How can I reduce my bill?
Waste Prevention: Try reducing the amount of packaging you generate by refusing single-use bottles, take-away coffee containers and bags. Ask your shops to reduce their packaging, especially all the extraneous food packaging, such as plastic wrapping.
Use your recycling bins properly: As your traditional black bin will cost the most to collect, it is essential that you properly segregate your organics and recyclables into the proper bin. Glass jars and bottles, which are extremely heavy, are fully recyclable and should be dropped into bottle banks. Additionally, each county has its own amenity centres, where they take garden waste, waste electronics (WEEE), household hazardous waste (such as paints, solvents, pesticides and herbicides) and all recycling streams. Some county councils offer this service for free and some charge a small charge.
Compost at Home: Lastly, you could try composting your own food waste and create lovely compost for your garden. A composting area can be made with old pallets or households can invest in composting cones or more sophisticated composting equipment such as the ‘little pig’, which is a rotating, insulated fully-enclosed composter. You can find loads of information on home composting on http://www.stopfoodwaste.ie/home-composting/.
Mindy O’ Brien is coordinator of VOICE Ireland, a member-based Irish environmental charity that empowers individuals and local communities to take positive action to conserve our natural resources.
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