Tuesday 6 December 2016

Revealed: Difference of €110 in 'pay by weight' costs across country

Average family will face bills of €360 under new waste charges regime, write Paul Melia, Grainne Loughran and Patrick Kelleher

Paul Melia, Grainne Loughran and Patrick Kelleher

Published 02/07/2016 | 02:30

Families in Dublin and the Midlands face the highest bin charges when pay-by-weight comes into force next year. Picture Colin Keegan, Collins Dublin.
Families in Dublin and the Midlands face the highest bin charges when pay-by-weight comes into force next year. Picture Colin Keegan, Collins Dublin.

Families in Dublin and the Midlands face the highest bin charges when pay-by-weight comes into force next year.

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A survey of all waste collectors operating across the State finds that the 'average' charge to be levied - based on figures supplied by the companies - will be almost €360 per year.

But a survey by the Irish Independent finds that the average charge is higher in Dublin, Tipperary, Westmeath and Meath. It also finds the cheapest average is in Kerry, at €342 per year.

The difference between the cheapest and most expensive is almost €110 across 12 months.

The figures come after the Government suspended the introduction of pay-by-weight, which was due to come into force yesterday on July 1, amid concern that some companies were hiking their fees to shore up losses.

Some companies increased their standing charge well in excess of amounts previously levied, while smaller families faced a 100pc increase in their bills as companies shored up loss-making services.

Read more: Bin firm puts customers on 'pay-by-weight' unless they opt out

The Irish Independent asked each company licensed to collect waste by the National Waste Collection Permit office to provide details of the amount it intended to charge per kilo of black, brown and green bin waste generated under pay-by weight. It's clear there is a wide disparity in the amount being charged, with a difference of more than €100 between the cheapest and most expensive operators.

The charge per family was calculated based on figures supplied by the Department of the Environment, which says the 'average' family generated 600kgs of black bin waste, 200kgs of brown bin and 200kg of green bin waste a year.

The survey finds:

The average charged, based on the figures supplied by the waste management companies, comes to €358.69 per year.

The cheapest charges are offered by Bourke Waste Disposal to customers in Galway, at €322.94 per year.

The most expensive is Panda, which operates pay by weight in Dun Laoghaire, Co Dublin. It is the only company which charges each time the bin is lifted, and the bill amounts to almost €430.

The most expensive charges were found in Dublin, but they were also higher than average in Limerick, Tipperary, Galway, Roscommon, Waterford and Cork.

Companies in Longford, Clare, Offaly, Mayo and Leitrim refused to provide figures, despite being contacted at least three times by telephone and three times by email.

Just one company in Louth, Limerick, Cork, Waterford, Donegal, Roscommon, Cavan, Sligo and Monaghan provided data.

Freeze

The survey shows the importance of shopping around to secure the best deal. Some companies, including bigger operators such as Panda, said not until pay-by-weight goes live will they be in a position to provide details on the charges to be levied. Others refused to comment, despite being contacted up to six times.

This is the second time the charges have been deferred. They were originally due to be introduced in July 2014, and a price freeze is now in place following agreement between the Government and waste collectors.

Read more: Paul Melia: Who knows what will happen in a year’s time?

From next January, all companies will have to introduce dual billing where the amount to be paid under the current system is set out, along with the cost under pay-by-weight.

A spokesperson for one operator, City Bin, said that the Government "literally ran for the hills" when the public reacted angrily to the new system, adding the whole system needed to be reassessed. "The public aren't ready to change their behaviour yet," they said.

Another claimed that some of the bigger operators had taken advantage of the situation and "put greed over need".

Stephen Martin, from Advanced Waste recycling, said his charges were among the lowest in Dublin, and insisted he was not selling below cost.

"If we get the prices we have quoted, we're happy that we can make money," he said. "But some of the bigger guys in Dublin have put greed over need. They've made us all out to be criminals and thieves, which is not the case."

The survey shows the prices per kilo of waste generated vary widely. The cheapest is 16c per black bin, but many companies charge more than twice this, or 35c. For green, prices range from 11c to 20c, with six companies charging for green bin waste. The prices range from 5c to 11c.

Read more: Coveney threatens to introduce regulations if bin operators fail to enforce price freeze

Greyhound, which the survey shows is among the dearer providers, said its prices were averaged across its entire customer base and it offered the "best value". But many of the companies said uncertainty over the new system meant they could not finalise charges.

One operator, Thornton's, said prices in place might be changed when the system goes live, and it was considering bringing in additional offers for different types of customers.

One of the largest operators, Greenstar, said it was unsure if it could stand over their quoted costs. "Currently, customers are signing up with us at this moment, they sign up as they would have done with our previous pricing. So what'll happen to that pay-by-weight pricing, don't know, no idea," said a spokesperson.

Many of the waste providers have complained at the extra costs that pay-by-weight legislation will involve, with smaller operators saying it could even put them out of business due to the added costs.

Irish Independent

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