Tuesday 6 December 2016

Pay-by-weight bin charges to be suspended if prices not cut

Paul Melia, Kevin Doyle, Grainne Loughran and Patrick Kelleher

Published 18/06/2016 | 02:30

Customers will have to explicitly state their desire to opt out of pay-by-weight bin charges, or risk being charged according to the new system. Photo: Collins
Customers will have to explicitly state their desire to opt out of pay-by-weight bin charges, or risk being charged according to the new system. Photo: Collins

Waste collectors are refusing to give details on how much households can expect to pay when pay-by-weight bin charges come into force in less than two weeks' time.

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Just seven of 60 waste operators contacted by the Irish Independent over the last two days have revealed their prices, with one in six saying the charges have yet to be finalised.

The lack of information for households comes as Fianna Fáil warned Housing Minister Simon Coveney that he must take action by early next week or they could force the issue.

Barry Cowen, the party's spokesman on housing and local government, said he was willing to await the results of a meeting between Mr Coveney and waste operators in Athlone last night, but added: "If he can't deliver, then he has a problem. He has to come up with a new plan so that households are back to square one."

Following last night's meeting, Mr Coveney's spokesperson said the minister supported a pay-by-weight scheme in principle, and would do all he could to keep costs down for householders.

"The minister has agreed to a tentative framework on this matter," they added. "He had a full and frank discussion with those representing the waste industry."

Mr Coveney is to meet with waste companies again early next week.

The expectation is that the new regime will be suspended until companies drop their prices and the system becomes more transparent.

Pay-by-weight charges are due to kick-in on July 1 in an effort to encourage households to recycle their rubbish and reduce the amount of waste going to landfill.

Research from the Department of the Environment suggests that 87pc of households will enjoy lower charges when the new system comes in; however, there are allegations that some companies have hiked prices way beyond what was expected.

One City Bin customer told the Irish Independent their bin charges would almost double from €170 a year to just over €300, based on the new system.

However, a spokesman for the company said the customer would have to be a "huge" generator of waste to run up such fees, adding that the changeover to the new system required customers to change their habits.

Some 17pc of City Bin's customers had not put their brown bins out in more than a year and customers could not expect their bills to drop "without effort", he said.

The spokesman added that the minimum charges imposed by the Government - 11c for a kg from the black bin, and 6c for a kg from the brown - did not cover the costs of disposal.

The Irish Independent sought details from 60 companies authorised to collect waste to discover how much households could expect to pay.

Just seven outlined the charges to be imposed, with 10 saying they weren't finalised.

No information was available from some of the biggest operators, including Panda, Barna in Galway, Oxigen and Greyhound.

Some companies have offered options, depending on household size with smaller homes having a lower standing charge, but a higher cost per kilo to dispose of waste.

Standing charges range from €104 to €198 per year, with rural areas typically more expensive. The cost of disposing of black bin waste ranges from 16c to 35c per kilo, while brown bin waste is 16c to 20c.

Dermot Jewell, of the Consumer Association of Ireland, said: "The worst part of the problem is that industry left it so late to come out and declare their rates. They must have known there'd be a kick-back.

"But they were hoping it was left too late and everybody would lie down and let the trucks drive over them."

 

Irish Independent

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