Larger families to face bill hike as 'pay-by-weight' bin charges on way
Larger households of six or more people can expect to see a hike in their bin charges from July.
The Department of the Environment said that while most homeowners would pay lower fees when a pay-by-weight collection system was introduced in just five months, some 4.5pc - more than 74,000 - were likely to have to pay more.
The changes were announced late in 2014 as part of a review of national waste policy. The pay-by-weight proposal is designed to increase recycling rates and reduce the amount of waste being sent to landfill, but there are concerns that it could also result in higher bills for some customers who refuse to change their ways.
Under the new regime, waste companies will no longer be allowed charge an annual flat fee to customers. Three bins must be provided and minimum rates per kilogramme of waste applied.
They are 11 cent per kilogramme of black bin, or residual waste; 6 cent per kilogramme of food or brown bin waste; and 2 cents per kilogramme for green or recyclable waste.
The Green Party claimed that the new charging structure would have a negative impact on recycling rates, which are among the highest in the EU.
It said that recycling should be free of charge to encourage a higher take-up, and that the new system would only encourage operators to dispose of waste in incinerators.
But the Department of the Environment insisted that the cost of recycling waste was already factored into charges.
"There is already a charge for the green bin which is already built into the overall cost charged by the service provider," a spokesman said.
"The new charges are fully in accordance with the polluter pays principle and the charges will reflect the cost to the waste company to collect the material and prepare it for recycling."
Household charges will be determined by the weight of the material sent for processing, the charge per kilogramme imposed by the collector and the level of waste separation.
Families that use the brown and green bins will pay lower charges than those who use only the black bin, but larger households which may have benefited from a flat-fee charge can expect to pay more.
"Generally speaking, larger households producing higher than average volumes of waste will pay more than under flat rate or pay-per-lift systems, while smaller households will see their bills decrease," the department said.
According to the 2011 Census, there are just over 1.654 million households across the State. Confidential data from waste operators, which are not being released, indicate that households with four people or less - around 87pc of homes according to the 2011 Census - will pay lower charges. A household with five people (8.8pc of the total) will pay approximately the same under pay-by-weight as under the flat rate, or pay-by-lift system, but those with six or more persons - 4.5pc of the total, or more than 74,000 - may see an increase in their costs. The extent of the increase will depend on household size and the volume of waste.
The system was supposed to be introduced last summer but was delayed for a year. All operators must switch to the new system on July 1. For homeowners who paid a flat-rate fee for the year, they will have to discuss the changes with their collector.