Ultimate cost of domestic bin collection is unclear
BOTTOM LINE:For Christmas this year someone gave me a copy of Joseph Stiglitz’s latest book, The Price of Inequality. In it the American economist argues that the level of wealth inequality in the US is not just inequitable but also a contributor to the pallid economic growth (bubbles aside) experienced by its economy in recent decades.
While I read the book, outside in the garden an enormous amount of packaging and other waste left over from the festive season awaited the arrival of the binmen.
The combination of the book’s content and my voluminous rubbish led to what happened next: I decided to switch bin companies.
When Dublin City Council sold its domestic waste collection service to Greyhound Waste and Recovery in January 2012, it was noted in this newspaper that the company is an unlimited one, and therefore doesn’t publish its accounts. The profits being made by the company therefore remain secret.
The company is in turn owned by limited liability companies based in the Isle of Man, a structure that allows its ultimate owners retain the benefits of limited liability while avoiding the normally associated obligation to publish accounts.
Waste companies may be feeling the downturn at the moment but when the economy picks up their profits will too. And we may not be able to monitor them.
Which brings us back to Stiglitz. He argues that the people and corporations that have accumulated the most wealth in recent times in the US are its most successful makers of excessive profits. Microsoft, the too-big-to-fail banks, telecoms companies and pharmaceutical companies are among those targeted. Individuals and smaller businesses are being screwed by these rent-seeking monopolists and oligarchs, according to Stiglitz.
Maybe Greyhound is a rent-seeker, I thought, and I switched to the City Bin Co.
Every little helps
This had the added advantage of reducing my bills. Greyhound imposes an annual fee of €100 for having a 240-litre black bin, and charges a further €7 each time it empties it. City Bin Co is running a special offer to mark its entry into the Dublin City Council market (to contest Greyhound’s dominant position) of just €99 a year, irrespective of the number of times the bin is emptied. Every little helps, as the retail oligarchy Tesco says.
Alas, dear reader, it subsequently came to my attention that Co Galway-based City Bin Co is an unlimited company that is in turn owned by companies based in Jersey. Bah humbug.