Newly announced household waste collection charges faces criticism from Greens and Sinn Fein

Published by Lia Flattery on

June 28th, 2017

A new government scheme for household waste collection charges has been met with criticism from Sinn Féin and the Green Party.

The Minister for Communications, Climate Action and Environment Denis Naughten announced the new arrangement yesterday which will see the phasing out of flat charges for household waste collection.

There will be no mandatory charge per kilogramme of waste disposed, and waste collection companies will be able to set their own prices, the Minister announced.

Under the new system, waste collection companies will be able to continue to provide or to introduce a range of pricing options, including standing charges, per-lift, per-kilogramme, weight bands, and weight allowance charges.

Mr Naughten said that the move is intended to incentivise greater levels of recycling among customers and “encourage householders to reduce and separate their waste while choosing the service-price offering that best suits their circumstances”.

However, Sinn Fein Deputy Brian Stanley, TD said that the government must consider how “the more vulnerable” will be charged under this new scheme.

Mr Stanley, the party’s environmental spokesperson, said that Sinn Fein is disappointed by the absence of a waiver scheme for low-income households, despite the last government committing to bring in such a system.

“The Minister is only setting out certain bands for charging; he has no power to set prices because this industry has been privatised,” he explained.

He added that it is uncertain whether competition between waste collectors alone will keep charges reasonable.

He concluded by saying that the government must address the matter of waste production in Ireland.

“We need to have drastic reduction in the volumes of waste produced by industry and at wholesale level,” he said. “These changes introduced do not in any way prevent waste being produced in the first place”.

The Green Party has also criticised the plans, claiming that “consumers will suffer if pay-by-weight bin charges aren’t regulated properly”, and called for recycling to remain free under the new charging scheme.

Green Party Leader Eamon Ryan said that the party supports pay-by-weight waste charges because of the need to reduce the amount of waste going to landfill in Ireland.

He added, however, that consumers will suffer if waste companies are allowed a “free-for-all regarding their pricing structures”.

To prevent this Mr Ryan suggested that local authorities should have some role in overseeing waste collection by having bin companies bid for the contracts to collect in various areas.

He called for the introduction of additional measures to reduce waste production, such as a deposit-return scheme on bottles and cans and the phasing out of single-use plastics.

Mr Ryan also urged the government to “get serious” in  tackling illegal dumping and fly-tipping .“If people’s bin charges go up, we will invariably see an increase in illegal dumping,” he added.

The Environmental Pillar – a coalition of 26 leading Irish environmental organisations – recently outlined the need for a drinks container deposit refund scheme before the Joint Oireachtas Budget Committee.

Speaking on RTE’s Morning Ireland today, Mr Naughten rejected the Green Party’s recommendation, claiming that the cost of a deposit-return scheme for bottles would outweigh the benefit.

He commented: “We have very high recycling rates in relation to bottles and plastic bottles in this country, somewhere over eighty per cent.

“It makes far more sense to invest in trying to deal with the residual twenty percent than setting up a completely new regime to collect bottles and plastic that are already being collected,” he added.

The new system is set to be implemented from July 1st.

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Lia Flattery

Lía is a former writer and Deputy Editor at Trinity News. She also has a BA in History and English Literature from Trinity College Dublin.