Flat-rate bin charges ban won't kick in until September
The Government's plan to ban flat-rate fee bin charges won't begin to kick in until September due to the process of informing local authorities and waste collectors on how the new system will operate.
Tánaiste Frances Fitzgerald told the Dáil that existing flat-rate contracts will be phased out between autumn 2017 and 2018 leaving householders "plenty of time" to contact waste disposal providers to determine the best option for them.
The Government wants to encourage people to reduce the waste they generate and increase recycling by scrapping the flat-rate fee system.
A 12-month price freeze agreed with waste collection companies amid the Government's ill-fated attempt to introduce pay-by-weight last year expires tomorrow.
Environment Minister Denis Naughten has admitted charges will rise after the price freeze, but he has said he expects collectors to put customers on to tariffs that reflect their recycling habits and that this would lead to lower costs. A department spokesman last night said the process of informing local authorities and waste operators of the changes - and allowing permit holders to make administrative changes and notify their customers - would take until September.
"It is at this point that the regulatory flat-rate phase-out on expiring contract or new contracts would take effect," he said.
People whose contracts expire between now and when the change comes into effect may still be able to avail of flat-rate fees for another year if they're still offered by their provider.
It comes as both Sinn Féin and Fianna Fáil signalled their unrest with aspects of the new regime, with rival private members' motions to be debated in Leinster House next week.
Sinn Féin has published its private members' motion calling for a waiver scheme for low income households.
Its environment spokesman Brian Stanley said his party was concerned vulnerable households and low income workers "will not be able to meet these charges on top of the other austerity measures that have been heaped on top of them".
He also said there should be obligations placed on manufacturers and wholesalers to reduce the amount of packaging they use to help people reduce their waste.
He dismissed any suggestion Sinn Féin was exploiting people's fears, saying his party had been "inundated with calls in relation to this matter".
Fianna Fáil, meanwhile, is set to introduce a motion calling on the Government to freeze charges until a regulator is put in place.