Hogan to regulate waste collection

Wed, Jul 25, 2012, 01:00

Waste collection companies will be held to account under a significantly strengthened regulatory system, Minister for the Environment Phil Hogan has pledged.

Announcing his new waste management policy Mr Hogan also said he will reduce the number of waste planning regions for the State from 10 to three, aiming for economies of scale and “greater efficiencies in the delivery of planning”.

There were will be further brown bin roll-out to increase the diversion of organic waste from landfill.

The Minister also plans a strengthened enforcement team to combat illegal fly-tipping, where small commercial loads are dumped illegally on back roads, as well as dealing with littering and backyard burning of waste.

A team of waste enforcement officers will also be established to combat serious criminal activity such as diesel laundering.

In the new waste management policy “A Resource Opportunity”, the Minister confirmed the private sector operators would be allowed to operate freely in the market.

He insisted however that operators will have to adhere to strict new standards of service. The operators are charged a nominal licence or permit fee currently, which does not reflect the profits they are generating. In future the fees will reflect the volume of business and will contribute to enforcement of the permit system, under the new waste policy.

Following acceptance at Cabinet yesterday the policy overturns the programme for government commitment to allow local authorities control which private companies collect waste.

But the Minister said operators will have to incentivise their customers to adopt more sustainable behaviour and be much more transparent about their charges.

Consumers will get the information they require “so if they are not satisfied, they can switch provider”, Mr Hogan said.

He criticised the how some firms treated their customers and the level of information they provided.

“It’s not acceptable for firms to ignore the genuine complaints of their customers and they will be held to account for their failures under the new system.”

Government sources pointed to the contradiction in waste companies welcoming the Minister’s plans to increase landfill prices in order to divert waste, but then passing the charge on to customers.

This was not acceptable, the sources said. Landfill prices increased to €65 a tonne on July 1st this year and will go up again to €75 a tonne next July.

Currently about 34 per cent or 410,000 households have a brown bin and the policy envisages a completed roll-out by the end of 2016.

Dublin City Council has said the new waste policy confirms the need for the development of the incinerator at Poolbeg.

Assistant city manager Seamus Lyons said “the Poolbeg plant will be needed as long as waste available in the market continues to be land-filled and the latest published figures show 1.19 million tonnes of municipal, household and office waste, generated in the Dublin region in 2010”.

Landfill only has 12 years of capacity left. Mr Lyons said the announcement by the Minister of the reduction in waste management regional bodies to just three, meant even more waste, post recycling, would be available in the Dublin region to go to Poolbeg rather than to landfill.

“There are no alternatives to Poolbeg available. Private waste infrastructure is diminishing”, he said.

He said the Poolbeg plant was an integral part of the Dublin Region Waste Plan and was in accordance with Government policy in response to the EU Landfill Directive and Waste Framework Directive..

“The Poolbeg plant is a critical piece of waste treatment infrastructure for Dublin and Ireland, ensuring we meet the 2016 EU Diversion from landfill targets and avoiding fines,” Mr Lyons said.

The policy document will be available shortly at environ.ie

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