Private waste ban sparks fee hike fears
HOUSEHOLDERS in Dublin face a massive hike in bin charges as they will no longer have a choice of the cheapest private bin collection services.
Private waste collection companies are to be banned from competing against each other and council bin services for business in the same areas.
Instead the four Dublin local authorities are to award a contract for an entire area to one private operator.
The controversial decision to end private competition across the Dublin bin collection market means that householders won't be able to continue signing up with whoever they want at the cheapest rate.
The move is certain to infuriate householders currently availing of cheaper private bin services.
In the Dun Laoghaire area one private operator is undercutting the council bin collection service by an average of €80 a year.
The four Dublin councils will announce today that they are to end the "free for all" whereby several private operators are picking up three to four bins in the same estate.
Last night, the Consumers Association of Ireland raised serious concerns about the effect that the eradication of competition will have on consumers.
Chief Executive of the association Dermot Jewell said he hoped guarantees that the operator's could not be beaten on price would be given before they offered their service.
"If an element of competition is gone, of course there will be concern," he said.
"Dominance can act against the consumer -- you have only to look at other areas where there is a lack of competition, including the airlines. If you lose competition you lose the edge you have in demanding a quality service."
But the Competition Authority said it is in favour of single operators if the arrangement was more economical in an area.
It said competition should take place at the tendering stage when operators would offer their services at competitive rates, before an operator was chosen.
"In the waste collection area, there are economies of scale and density," said a spokesperson.
"In a typical market, it is the more the merrier but if you have a number of competitors in waste collection it can be costly.
"You might have five trucks picking up from 20 houses rather than one picking up from 100. The trucks will have longer distances to go to collect bins and therefore, further to go before they get to landfill."
Currently most private operators are providing much cheaper annual charges than the councils, offering discounts of up to 30pc.
The end of competition is certain to mean higher charges as soon as the new arrangements are introduced.
However the councils insist the new charges will reflect the cost of providing a range of recycling and other facilities as well as waivers for those on social welfare.
The councils say the private operators are not providing waivers to 70,000 homes as councils do, they do not pay for bottle banks, and are cherrypicking lucrative areas.