herald

Sunday 25 September 2016

New bin payments may be suspended if companies don't reduce their prices

Simon Coveney TD Picture: Tom Burke
Simon Coveney TD Picture: Tom Burke

Waste collectors are refusing to give details of how much households can expect to pay when pay-by-weight bin charges come into force in less than two weeks.

Only seven of 60 waste operators contacted by the Herald over the past two days have revealed their prices, with one in six saying the charges have yet to be finalised.

The lack of information for households comes as Fianna Fail warned that Housing Minister Simon Coveney must take action by early next week or they could force the issue.

Fianna Fail's Barry Cowen said he was willing to await the results of a meeting between Mr Coveney and waste operators in Athlone last night.

Problem

However, he added: "If he can't deliver, he has a problem. He has to come up with a new plan so that households are back to square one."

Mr Cowen noted that while the Government said com-panies hiking charges are going against the "spirit" of the new regime, "spirit doesn't pay bills".

The expectation is that the new system will be suspended until companies drop their prices and the system becomes more transparent.

Pay-by-weight charges are due to kick-in on July 1 in an effort to encourage households to recycle their rubbish and reduce the amount of waste going to landfill.

Research from the Department of the Environment suggested that 87pc of households would enjoy lower charges when the new system came into force. However, there are allegations that some companies have hiked prices far beyond what was expected.

The Herald sought details from 60 companies authorised to collect waste to discover how much households can expect to pay. Only seven outlined the charges to be imposed, with 10 saying they weren't finalised.

No information was available from some of the biggest operators including Panda, Barna in Galway, Oxigen and Greyhound.

Some companies have offered options, depending on household size, with smaller homes having a lower standing charge but a higher cost-per-kilo to dispose of waste.

Standing charges range from €104 to €198 a year, with rural areas typically more expensive. The cost of disposing of black bin waste ranges from 16c to 35c per kilo, while brown bin waste is 16c to 20c.

Some operators are also charging to dispose of recycling waste. Up to 11c per kilo is being demanded in some areas.

The Government is said to be considering the introduction of a waiver for low-income households, but could also introduce regulations to cap charges if waste collectors are found to be abusing their position.

Ridiculous

Dermot Jewell, of the Consumers' Association of Ireland, described the situation as "ridiculous".

"I think the worst part of the problem is that the industry left it so late to come out and declare rates," he said.

"They were hoping it was left too late and everybody would lie down and let the trucks drive over them."

Mr Jewell said the pay-by-weight system is the correct approach, but should not be introduced until a proper charging regime is finalised.

"This is the structure we need, but it has to be affordable. The prices are too high. It reminds me of the change to the euro when there was a ridiculous amount of inflation," he said.

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