New waste rules to come in over 15 months, says Varadkar

Published by Kate O'Brien on

July 5, 2017

Negotiations between Fianna Fáil and the Government last night has led to the acceptance of a counter-motion on the introduction of a new system of bin charges.

The proposed charges would stop flat charges in favour of a pay-by-weight, pay-by-lift system, which is already in operation in some areas of the country.

Fianna Fáil had opposed the new system on the basis that it would cause ‘price gauging’, and asked for an independent regulator to be appointed.

Last night the party said it would not block the governments counter motion as it was agreed that prices would be monitored on a monthly basis by an independent watchdog.

Taoiseach Leo Varadkar said the new bin-charges system will be phased in gradually over a 15-month period from September.

The government also agreed that the Competition and Consumer Protection Commission would conduct an audit by the end of the year to provide evidence for the establishment of a regulator.

However, opposition parties say that the new waste system, even with an independent watchdog, is not good enough. Solidarity-People Before Profit are opposed to the new regime, while the Social Democrats are calling for more financial transparency from waste companies.

The Social Democrats party’s co-leader, Róisín Shortall TD said: “Our amendment would mean that waste management companies couldn’t get a permit or licence without publishing their financial accounts in Ireland. This would ensure transparency about their ownership.”

She added that the parties proposed amendment would also “see the introduction of a national waiver scheme so that particular groups of people are not burdened with any sudden increase in waste collection fees”.

This afternoon, Sinn Féin environmental spokesperson Brian Stanley TD  said that the decision was “a grubby backroom deal between Fianna Fáil and Fine Gael”.

“They have not withdrawn the current charging proposals and have not set any parameters to limit the potential for sky-rocketing prices,” he said, adding his disappointment that no waiver scheme for low-income households is included.

Last month, the Green Party launched a Waste Reduction Bill which proposes to introduce a deposit refund scheme for glass and plastic bottles and to go the way of France, Korea and San Francisco by ordering a complete ban on single-use non-recyclable plastics, such as coffee cups and plastic cutlery by January 2020.

The Bill will be debated in the Dáil next Tuesday after the Labour Party agreed to co-sponsor the Bill, and to introduce it during their private members time.

The issue of a new waste system has been proposed in order to reduce waste sent to landfill. According to VOICE Ireland, 4.2 billion PET bottles (recyclable polyethylene terephthalate) go unrecycled each year.

In a letter to Minster of the Department of Communications, Climate Action and Environment, Mr Denis Naughten the Environmental Pillar – an umbrella organisation of 26 environmental groups – highlighted the need for reform and urged the minister to support the Waste Reduction bill recently introduced by the Green Party.

“We believe that this long over-due and common sense piece of legislation would go a long way to reduce the amount of plastic and other materials littering our country-side, waterways, beaches and city streets,” the letter stated.

“There are huge leaks in our current waste management system which does not address our on-the-go society.  Our disposable economy has created over 50,000 tonnes of plastic in Ireland per annum,” the letter continued.

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Kate O'Brien

Kate is a freelance writer with work published in The Guardian, the Financial Times and the New York Times blog. She is a former Editor of The Plant, a UK magazine on plants and other greenery