'Bin garda' to crack down on households that don't dispose of their waste properly
'Bin gardas' are to crack down on households that can't show they dispose of their waste properly.
Inspectors will be able to issue fines of €75 on anyone who can't prove they are disposing of their waste legally in a bid to clamp down on illegal dumping.
However, a senior waste management official insisted there are no plans to force households to sign up with private bin collectors.
People in 'bin sharing' arrangements with neighbours will need to put a formal declaration in place, while those who choose to go to the local dump will need to keep receipts.
Bylaws being put in place by local authorities across the country will target tens of thousands of homes not currently using private waste collecting companies.
Under the plan, companies will share the unique Eircodes of their paying customers with authorities, which will then be checked against Eircodes in a given locality.
Inspectors will target homes with no contract and a fine of €75 will be issued to anyone who cannot prove they are properly disposing of their waste.
Fines will increase to up to €2,500 if a case is brought before the courts.
Hugh Coughlan, regional co-ordinator of the Eastern Midlands Regional Waste Office, insisted not being signed up with a private bin collector will not automatically lead to a fine.
"You don't have to have a contract. We do recognise for example that some people do bin sharing," he said.
"In that case there will have to be a declaration and the specific situation will probably have to be more regularised," he told the Irish Independent.
"We may end up issuing fines, after all the checks and balances show that you cannot prove you've been properly disposing of your waste."
It will also be taken into consideration if people use facilities such as the local dump to dispose of their waste, he said, with households expected to retain receipts. The main aim of the plan is to ensure people are properly disposing of their waste, Mr Coughlan said.
While door-to-door, TV licence-style inspections will be carried out, there will be an element of investigation, where inspectors have to be completely satisfied an individual can't prove their waste is being properly disposed of.
Mr Coughlan was confident the proposal for private waste companies to share customers' Eircodes with councils was not in breach of data protection legislation.
"It's not personal data," Mr Coughlan said, adding that an Eircode was a geoco-ordinate. "The legislation allows us to use that."
The Office of the Data Protection Commissioner had not responded last night to a request for clarification on whether this was an acceptable practice.
An information campaign on the plan is due to be rolled out in the coming months.
Inspectors could be on the streets by as early as the spring.
The Department of the Environment said every local authority is either considering or has recently introduced new bylaws on waste management.
It said these oblige people to use an authorised waste collection service or provide documentary proof on how they dispose of their waste.