A “mattress amnesty”, which will see old mattresses collected for free in parts of Dublin next week, legitimises the reintroduction of free bulky waste collections across Dublin, city councillors have said.
Households in Dublin’s north inner city, as well as Cabra and Glasnevin, that have registered with the council can have up to three mattresses taken away without charge from August 15th as part of an anti-dumping initiative.
However, Dublin City Council (DCC) officials in recent weeks said the council could not reintroduce the free collection of bulky household waste because it contravened the “polluter pays principle”, could encourage “dumping tourism” and result in the European Union prosecuting the State.
Independent councillor Nial Ring, who is in favour of the mattress amnesty, said it was “paradoxical in the extreme” that the council was happy to collect mattresses but would not collect bulky waste.
“A mattress would be part of household bulky waste and there’s very little difference between a mattress and a sofa. They [council officials] can’t have it every way. Now that they have decided to do the mattress collection they have conceded the point, and I think it should be a prelude to the reintroduction of the bulky waste collection.”
Councillors last November voted, as part of the city’s 2022 budget, to fund the return of free waste collection of “bulky” items such as mattresses and sofas, which had been discontinued in 2014.
However, in a report to councillors, Liam Bergin, executive manager with the council’s environment division, said the council could not allow the service to go ahead.
The move would be “in direct contradiction to European, national and local policy governing waste disposal and specifically ignores the overarching polluter pays principle”.
It could also incentivise “dumping tourism”, where “non-residents or commercial operators may take advantage of the free service and drop off waste in areas where collection is taking place”.
Mr Bergin said he had not been aware of what the councillors were doing at the time of the budget and, had he been forewarned, he would have advised of the illegality of the move.
“I knew it would be problematic as soon as I saw it. I sent it off for legal advice as soon as I saw it,” he said. “But if I had been asked at the time would this have got through, would we be in a position in DCC to bring it in or indeed the Irish State to bring it in, I would have said no.”
A spokeswoman for the council said the mattress amnesty was a Department of Environment initiative “to support anti-dumping intervention projects under the potential impact areas of prevention, abatement, education and enforcement” and the waste collected was considered a resource. “The amnesty is focused on supporting the recycling of all mattresses collected,” she said.
Fianna Fáil councillor Deirdre Heney, who had sought the reintroduction of the bulky waste collection, said the service should be implemented without delay.
“The city council is absolutely right to carry out the mattress amnesty, it is a very important service to provide for the community, as is the bulky waste collection. They are the very same.”
The bulky waste collection service was particularly important for “vulnerable” households she said.
“Vulnerable individuals, especially the elderly and people without cars, can have huge difficulties disposing of large items they no longer need. This service is something that makes people feel really good about the city council and appreciate the service the council provides.”
Mr Ring said bulky household waste could also be recycled. He added that the polluter was paying for this service through their local property tax. “Property taxes are paid to fund council services, so to say people wouldn’t be paying for this is absolute rubbish.”
Households must have registered with the council by August 8th to avail of the mattress amnesty. Unregistered mattresses “will be deemed to be illegally dumped and could result in prosecution”, the council said.