Of all the essential utilities in Ireland, the residential household waste collection market is widely considered to be a bit of a dog's dinner, with many households unable to switch depending on where they are.
In 2018, the Competition and Consumer Protection Commission (CCPC) published a study on the domestic waste collection market in which it said that while competition should result in multiple suppliers and consumer choice, this was not happening - even with more than 60 waste collection firms in Ireland - with too much concentration in urban areas.
If you live in, for example, a rural part of Kerry, Galway or Limerick where there is only one private provider, you will have no option to switch to another unless you opt for the local council-run service.
It also found that the average home now pays €230-€280 a-year in waste collection charges, and that just 15pc of those who had a choice of collection provider had ever switched.
The Government-backed Price Monitoring Group, which keeps track of prices in the waste collection market, had reported in 2018 that householders struggled to make meaningful comparisons on waste collection fees because of poor online or phone information from many of the firms in the market, and as many as 10 different types of charging structures.
It continues to monitor prices every month across a number of firms and publishes a comparison table at the Department of Communications, Climate Action and Environment website (dccae.gov.ie), but because of the variety of charging structures and the fact that the firms are not identified, it's not much use to consumers.
The biggest operators in waste collection include Panda, AES, Greenstar, Keywaste, Greyhound, Thorntons Recycling and CityBin, with many smaller, local collectors dotted around the country.
There have even been efforts made last year by several Dublin councillors to get Dublin City Council, which pulled out of bin collection services entirely in 2012, to re-enter the market and eventually take back full control of waste collection in the city.
As a first step, it's worth checking out Mywaste.ie, a Government information website on how to reduce your household waste and reduce your costs.
STEP 1 Check out what providers operate in your area and find out as much as possible about their pricing plans. It may not be easy to compare prices because of the variety of pricing packages and models. In addition, the information you need may not be available online, so you may need to ring up, text or email instead.
STEP 2 Try and track how much you put in your recycling and brown bins on a week-by-week basis before you decide to switch providers or else change your pricing package with your current provider. You may find that you won’t save by switching at all. A good starting point for information is mywaste.ie.
STEP 3 Switching itself is easy to do, and can often be done online or by email, as well as over the phone. You will need your bank or credit card details. Your old provider should be in touch to arrange to pick up their bins, but you might need to remind them.