Monday 11 December 2017

Don't go wasting your money

The new bin charges are on the way ­- but who will end up paying the most

Going to waste: Bin contents will be analysed by cameras fitted to trucks and you can be fined for contaminating your bin
Going to waste: Bin contents will be analysed by cameras fitted to trucks and you can be fined for contaminating your bin
Sinead Ryan

Sinead Ryan

One of the more contentious issues for consumers last year was that of bin charges.

So, the Government did what it usually does when it needs to calm things down a bit and kicked it to touch, twice, and now it is expected to be September before we are all on a mandatory pay-by-weight system. Taoiseach Leo Varadkar has suggested that it will probably take a full 15 months for it to be rolled out in full.

The merits of the 'polluter pays' principle are well aired. That we are under an EU directive to implement it is beyond doubt. So what's the problem?

Primarily it has been the method of delivery. This is an entirely private market, unregulated, and free to charge what it likes. None of this is changing. That makes house-holders nervous. Waste collection, like water and electricity, are things we simply cannot do without so the charges will apply to everyone, no exceptions.

But some will fare worse than others. Big families, the elderly and those with small kids could all potentially pay more. This week, I'm looking at who will pay the most.

Dubliners

* Bin charges have been in situ in rural Ireland for years; likewise in some cities. However, in many parts of the capital, households have paid a flat annual fee for all their bins, irrespective of what was in them. This led to around 440,000 tons of waste that could have been recycled every year. However, few city dwellers relish the prospect of three bins each with myriad collection vehicles in built-up areas.

Extra Charges

* Instead of a flat fee, households will be charged a 'service fee', which will apply whether or not you put a bin out, plus either a 'pay by lift' fee per bin or a 'pay by kg' fee. Different charges will apply for Black, Brown and Green bins. Bin contents are analysed by cameras fitted to trucks and you can be fined for contaminating your bin.

There will be no cap on what can be charged; instead the country's 46 waste disposal companies are free to set their own prices. In places where there is no competition, this may result in hikes.

Education

* Most people believe waste is bad, and reusing and recycling is good. However, the finer points still elude us. Is all plastic recyclable? What goes in the brown bin? What is 'black' waste? The Government promised an education initiative which has yet to materialise. A little would go a long way, especially as bin companies can now fine people for putting the wrong waste in the wrong bin, even accidentally.

Babies

* Families with children in nappies will fare the worst. They are heavy, and must go in the black bin, which will cost the most under the new system. Some may return to cloth nappies but busy parents won't be happy.

Elderly

* Those living alone with little waste will now pay only when they put their bin out, which may be infrequent. Although there is a standing charge every month, this should result in a lower overall cost. People living with incontinence can apply for a €75 p.a. derogation against their black bin charge.

Apartments

* Apartments come under commercial waste contracts, so individual owners/renters won't each be getting new bins. Instead, management companies will be encouraged to provide brown/green bins for residents.

Brown Bin

* For many, this is the 'new' bin. It takes food and garden waste primarily. It can be smelly and as you can't use plastic or paper bags to put the waste in you can try 'compostible' bags for your kitchen to reduce smells.

Irish Independent

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