IT'S one of the dirtiest games in town - the battle for your rubbish.
Dublin city's lucrative bin collection sector has become a tooth-and-nail fight. The prize? Every customer who ever leaves out a bin.
The result is that we're all being wooed with special offers, tailored packages and promises of value services. But picking over the deals isn't easy.
A decade ago, Dublin's four local authorities were the only major players. They charged standard fees and provided waivers for OAPs and social welfare recipients.
But competition from cheaper private companies slowly eroded their customer base, leaving Dublin City Council as the capital's last public bin collector.
City chiefs eventually threw in the towel and signed the service over to Greyhound last January.
Greyhound is now fighting hard to hold on to its market share as competitors try to undercut it.
For hard-pressed customer, the battle means a bewildering array of packages from which to choose.
It's a far cry from the days of council bin collection, which though expensive for the local authority, was always at the same time on the same day. The price of competition is that Dubliners now complain there could be three or four different collection days on their street.
"One of the big problems, and it was one that was predicted, is that, if you have a number of operators in the same area, they will be collecting on different days and at different hours," city councillor Cieran Perry said.
Bins are left out on Cabra Park in Phibsboro almost every weekday, householder Ursula Lynch said.
"It's worse here than in a lot of place because about 80pc of the homes are in flats. Which means that the bins are out nearly every day of the week," she said.
Residents can be forgiven their confusion at the variety of fees and price plans on offer.
Greyhound, which has 170,000 customers, has begun charging customers tailored plans. The system has been running in the South Dublin County Council area for the past three months, but is now in operation in the city area as well.
Each household is given an individualised fee structure, which Greyhound says is based on the amount of rubbish generated. It has given customers a number of options, saying each choice is individually tailored.
The company gave an example of the price plan available to a 'low end-user' -- someone who puts out a small amount of waste.
In this category, the annual charge is €59.95, with a €10 reduction if customers paid by November 1: almost all its customers took up the discount, the company said.
In addition, customers have to pay €6.50 for each black bin (general waste) lift, €3.60 for brown bin (compostable) lift, while the green bin is collected at no extra cost. With the discount, it equates to €171 a year, based on customers presenting their black and brown bins once a month and their green bin up to 26 times a year.
Weight restrictions of 25kg apply on black bins and 20kg on brown bins -- about the same as the luggage allowance for checked bags on a typical airline.
Black bin waste over 25kg is charged at 33c per kilo and brown waste over 20kg at 24c per kilo.
For a high end-user, one offer available is a charge of €29 a month (or €348 a year) for collection of all bins (two black, two green and two brown).
There are no weight restrictions or extra costs. It includes 26 collections each a year of two black bins, two green bins and two brown bins.
"Greyhound is the only waste operator to offer each and every one of its customer a choice of price plans based on the amount of waste that they generate. The price plans are tailored for each customer because we realise that one price does not fit all," Greyhound told the Herald.
Greyhound also charges €9 for a roll of six rubbish bags to customers who do not have room for wheelie bins. For collections inDun Laoghaire/Rathdown Panda, which has 150,000 customers, levies an annual service charge of €64 for general waste collection.
It charges €3.20 a lift or €0.277 a kilo.The service includes a fortnightly green bin collection at no additional cost. Customers can add a brown bin for an extra €22 on the service charge and €2.56 a lift or 16c a kilo. In Fingal, Panda charges annual service charge of €110 and €8.75 a lift.
New entrant City Bin has an introductory 'all-in' offer for Dublin city of €99 for the first 12 months. Customers would then be charged €15 a month (or €180 a year), guaranteed until 2015.
In the South Dublin County Council area, householders can pay an all-in €15 monthly fee covering black, brown and green bin collections. A second option is a €59 annual service charge plus €6.50 a lift (black bin), €3.60 (brown bin) and a free green bin.
Customers in the Fingal area can choose between a €20 monthly fee with no lift charges or a €7.33 monthly charge of €6.40 per black bin lift and free brown and green bin collection.
City Bin Co co-founder Gene Browne said the company has seen its household customer numbers increase by 50pc in Dublin since expanding into the city six weeks ago.
"There has been a rush of new business for us. We are really excited about our entry into Dublin City and, by the looks of it, the people are, too," he said. In December, six of its trucks were destroyed in an arson attack.
Another company, Greenstar, which has 80,000 customers, offers a 'standard plan' in Dun Laoghaire/Rathdown which comes with an annual service charge of €65 a year.
At €3.20 a lift or €0.247 a kilo, customers get a weekly general waste collection and a green bin collection twice every four weeks.
Within the city council area, householders pay €110 a year by way of a service charge and €8.50 for the collection of black, brown and green bins.
Oxigen customers also have a variety of choices. They can pay €14 a lift with no annual service charge, or pay an all-in annual charge of €220 for 26 collections a year.