645 Panda customers must pay €9.35 after 'contaminating' bins
One in 20 Panda customers in north Dublin have been forced to pay higher charges because they routinely contaminate their recycling bin.
The company said 645 customers have received letters saying they must pay €9.35 to have their recycling bin emptied after nappies and other black bin waste was placed in the wrong one.
It added that nearly 12,000 customers across Fingal are being actively monitored to make sure they throw only paper, plastics and aluminium cans into their recycling bins.
High-speed cameras fitted to trucks photograph the waste being collected. If the load is contaminated, the higher fee is applied.
Panda spokesman Des Crinion told the Herald that customers were given two warnings before the charge was imposed.
The company is beginning to charge 80c per recycling bin lift and 4.5c per kilo of waste, but said the higher €9.35 fee would continue to be imposed on offenders.
"In certain areas, we have up to 40pc contamination in the bin," Mr Crinion said, adding that common items found included nappies and shoes and electrical waste such as batteries.
"The cameras are linked with GPS and the microchip in the bin, so when we see contamination on the camera we can go to the household.
"Most of the time they don't do it again, but there are certain serial offenders.
"We will allow people two misdemeanours and after that we will charge a standard black bin charge."
Just over 11,750 customers whose bins are collected in Fingal are monitored from a total of 72,000 in the area.
Over a 30-week period, 8,975 received a first warning letter advising them to clean up their act.
Of these, 5,143 received a second warning letter, and of these, 645 have received a charge letter.
Nearly 120 of those customers have received more than one charge letter.
"The bottom line is that from a pool of 11,753 customers, just 645 of them have been fined - that's just 5.5pc," the company said.
"The other 94.5pc either never contaminated or stopped after they got the first or second warning letter, a great result that we are delighted with."
Contamination had reduced by 80pc since the trial began last year, said Panda, but advised people to make sure that paper, plastics and glass were not disposed of in the black bin destined for landfill as thousands of tonnes of the material was being lost.
Other operators, including Greyhound, Thornton and AES, can impose a fee if a bin is contaminated, with industry sources suggesting this was likely to happen more frequently in the future.