Wednesday 28 June 2017

'I expected a change, but not my charges to double'

Colette Gallagher next to her bin at her home in Lucan. Photo: Damien Eagers
Colette Gallagher next to her bin at her home in Lucan. Photo: Damien Eagers
Paul Melia

Paul Melia

The introduction of the pay-by-weight system was supposed to benefit some 87pc of households whom, it was claimed, would enjoy lower bills.

But Colette Gallagher (36), from Lucan in Co Dublin, expects her waste charges to almost double.

For most of last year, Colette and her husband Mick Kerrigan paid a €140 annual flat fee to have their waste collected. Last April, they were informed it would increase to €170 for the year, again under the flat-fee system.

Under pay-by-weight, it will rise to €300. Colette was, to say the least, surprised at the hike.

"I got an email from City Bin and when I started to do the calculations I realised my charges would almost double," she said.

"I was surprised because I had heard the head of an organisation from the bin collection companies saying it (the new system) would probably mean that charges would go down (for most). I was expecting a fluctuation but not this. This is a sizeable increase in cost."

The couple produced 295kg of brown bin, or organic, waste last year. Another 285kg of black bin waste was generated, and 141kg of green. Under the new system, the cheapest option offered by her current provider includes a €2.99 per week standing charge, coupled with a fee of 20c per kg of brown waste and 30c for the black bin. There is no charge for green.

Based on the amount generated last year, the bill will be €300.88 for the year.

"The thing for me is the weekly service charge. I'm pretty good at recycling and I'm pretty vigilant. There's probably enough scope in the per-kilo charge to cover (the cost) without this weekly fee. In fairness, the service is very good. I would like to stay with them, but I'll have to shop around.

"My next step is to try and negotiate a better rate, like you would with car insurance. We have Thornton's, City Bin and Greyhound. I've done a very quick comparison, and I don't see there's going to be a huge amount of difference between them.

"I'm a loyal customer, and I'll ask them if there's anything they can do. The only possible thing is we would have a slightly bigger outdoor space than many people. All those grass clippings go into the brown bin. I think I'll look at getting a composter in."

Conversely, this reporter will benefit - albeit marginally - under the new system. Last year, the annual flat fee was €320. My family of two adults and three children produced 263kgs of green bin waste, 402kgs of black and 359kg of brown.

Thornton's will charge a weekly service charge of €2, coupled with a 35c charge for black bin waste and 20c for brown.

Assuming the same amount of waste is generated, the bill for the year will amount to €316.50 - a saving of €3.50.

Analysis from the Department of the Environment suggests that households with four or fewer people will pay less, while those with five will pay much the same. Families of six or more can expected to pay more - there are around 75,000 of this family type in the State.

The problem for many will be the lack of competition.

Unless the market forces prices down, or the Government intervenes, Colette and Mick won't be the only people facing sharp increases from next month.

Irish Independent

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