Paul Melia: Who knows what will happen in a year’s time?
The agreement struck between waste collectors and the Government is a good outcome for consumers, but what's to say that in July 2017, when the current price-freeze deal expires, that some operators won't increase their prices again and we're back to square one?
The introduction of pay-by-weight was first mooted at the end of 2014, and there's no certainty it will go ahead in July next year. The 12-month price freeze is no guarantee of public acceptance, especially when problems remain with how it will be implemented.
It's suggested that in some areas a brown bin service for organic waste is not being provided to households, meaning unless they plan on composting, they'll have to pay a higher charge to dispose of this than they should. Larger households, which produce more waste - or those which refuse to segregate their rubbish into black, green and brown - will have to bear some additional costs.
It's worth noting that the minister said he was "disappointed" at the level of "awareness-raising" from the industry over the introduction of pay-by-weight, but surely this was something the Government should have rolled-out, and certainly well before the belated information campaign which began in May. But what really didn't help was the blatant price-gouging by some operators. The fact that households were happy enough to go along with cheap charges isn't their fault.
As Mr Coveney noted, the waste market is competitive at the moment but "it doesn't have to remain the case". The industry has been warned.