Plans for pay-by-weight waste collection shelved
Government plans to introduce a pay-by-weight waste collection system have been shelved until after the next general election.
Not until July 2016 - a year later than expected - will households be forced to move from a flat-rate charge system to one based on the amount of waste produced, the Irish Independent has learned.
While the pay-by-weight proposal is designed to increase recycling rates and reduce the amount of waste being sent to landfill, there are concerns that it could result in higher bills for some customers who refuse to change their ways.
Sources said the Government was concerned that the measure could be seen as an additional tax or charge in the run-up to an election, which would register badly with voters.
However, Environment Minister Alan Kelly insisted that the delay was to allow householders prepare for the new charging system.
"What we will be doing is giving households, particularly families with children, a lead-in time of 12 months to adjust to the new regime and continue to pay under their payment plans," he said.
"They will be shown their costs once pay-by-weight becomes fully applicable, to give households time to prepare for a new payment regime," he added.
A letter to waste management companies, sent last night, says they must have the systems in place to weigh household waste from July 1 in order to renew their collection permits.
While not obliged to do so, companies will be allowed to offer a pay-by-weight billing system to customers who recycle and compost waste which, under the new system, would result in lower bills.
The changes were announced late last year as part of a review of national waste policy.
Other changes included fines for waste companies which fail to provide a high-quality service to customers, and a requirement that companies register customer details with local authorities to prevent illegal dumping and to ensure that waste is being properly disposed of.
These measures will be introduced as planned to avoid a "race to the bottom", Mr Kelly said, and will take effect from the summer.
The minister added that the lead-in time was designed to allow households "improve their segregation patterns" to help reduce bills.
"During this adjustment period (of 12 months), households should be provided with indicative bills in order to show the change, if any, of the transition to pay by weight," he added.
The new system involves the imposition of a higher charge per kilogramme of so-called waste destined for landfill, with lower charges for compostable waste and 'green' waste.