Bin charges to rise as families will be forced to pay by weight
Tens of thousands of families face paying higher bin charges under a new payment system coming into force next year.
Flat-fee annual charges will be banned when the new ‘pay by weight’ system is introduced, resulting in bills as high as €337 per year – more than €100 more expensive than the cheapest offers currently on the market.
And an Irish Independent national survey of waste operators shows that the cost of waste collection varies widely throughout the country.
The cheapest rate stands at €204 per year, but it can be as high as €507 in some cases.
It also shows that the cheapest ‘average’ bill is in Galway City at €252 per year, but that this figure rises to €346 in Donegal – almost €100 more.
The survey shows a wide disparity in levels of service, with some companies offering glass collection, while others do not provide a compost bin for food and garden waste.
Collection rates also vary, from weekly, bi-weekly and in some cases monthly for certain waste streams. The range of services being offered will be standardised under changes to the waste management system coming into force from July 1 next.
Companies will have to provide three bins to all households, and must also produce customer charters, under the new regime.
The changes are being introduced by Environment Minister Alan Kelly, who said that shortfalls in customer service suggested the industry needed to be “radically shaken up, modernised and professionalised”.
He is on record as saying he wants to avoid a “race to the bottom”.
From July 1 next, waste operators will no longer be allowed to charge an annual fee and must instead bill customers based on the amount of waste they produce.
Operators will not be allowed charge less than the cost of treating the waste, and the changes are designed to improve recycling rates and divert as much as 440,000 tonnes of rubbish a year from landfill.
But they will lead to charge increases for as many as 75,000 households.
An analysis from the Department of the Environment shows that 4.5pc of all homes will pay more, but that 87pc will pay less. The remainder will be unaffected.
Waste operators are required to have weighing technology fitted to their trucks since the beginning of this month, and said they will have no option but to pass on the extra costs to customers.
In some cases, smaller operators unable to compete are expected to drop out of the market. A chip on each bin, allowing the waste to be weighed, costs around €5 to install. Weighing technology on the truck costs from €30,000.
One Monaghan company said it had spent €71,000 to date upgrading their fleet, and that prices were likely to rise.
“That’s a serious amount of money just to get set up for the ‘pay by weight’ system. The price of collecting household wheelie bins will have to go up,” a spokesman for Mahony’s Waste Disposal said.
“If we don’t install the gear, we’ll be forced to close down. It’s that simple.”
Brian Murphy from Loftus Recycling in Killala, Co Mayo, added there was a huge difference in pricing, and that it was more expensive to landfill waste in Dublin than in the west.
“Availability of landfill is a big issue. When they bring in ‘pay by weight’, it would be a much better system if the price was the same countrywide,” he said.
The Irish Waste Management Association, which supports the introduction of ‘pay by weight’, said the changes would increase recycling rates, and that prices would be “competitive”.
A spokesman added that between now and July 1 next, customers should be informed of the weights in their bins to help calculate their costs under the new regime. He added he expected that most households would pay less.