Unprotected plastic bin bags are to be banned from Dublin city’s streets, more than eight years after legislation was introduced to end their use.
Dublin City Council will in the new year begin a trial of seagull-proof sacks in its latest effort to find a solution to ending the use of bin bags, often ripped open by birds and other animals.
Councillors raised concerns on Wednesday that sacks could be “manky” when taken indoors and that specifically naming gulls as a problem might “denigrate wildlife”.
Legislation requiring the use of bins instead of refuse sacks came into force in 2016 but residents and businesses on more than 1,000 streets in the capital were exempt from the new rules because their properties were unsuitable for bins.
Streets in the city centre or inner suburbs with no front gardens and no direct back access were mostly affected. Residents were granted the exemption after successfully arguing they would have to keep wheelie bins in their houses, or drag them through their homes from enclosed back yards. The exemption also applied to commercial premises with no waste storage facilities.
The council in 2019 announced a competition for “innovative solutions” for on-street storage and presentation of household and commercial waste, which would be “durable, rigid, capable of withstanding normal wear and tear, be lightweight and portable” and preferably “collapsible or foldable so that it may be stored with minimal intrusion on commercial or domestic settings”.
From October 2021 to April of this year the council trialled a product called Bagbin, a collapsible waste container that protects refuse sacks from being ripped open by seagulls and vermin, at 86 residential and commercial locations.
Last July the council said the product, which can be used in areas lacking space for wheelie bin storage, “achieves the required result of reducing litter from ripped bags provided it is used properly”. However, it said there were some “challenges” associated with the product, with some residents reporting difficulties using the Bagbin, and further study required to identify the best solution for a widespread roll-out.
The council now plans to run trials on a gull-proof bag, a woven, closable, plastic sack which can hold up to six bin bags and is used in Edinburgh.
Following the trial and assessment, councillors will be presented with a report in two year’s time, after which the prohibition of bags will be implemented.
Members of the council’s environment committee welcomed the trial but raised some concerns about its use in a residential setting. “I am assuming it is like a reinforced Ikea bag design. I can just imagine that on a rainy day with the juice from bins that sometime comes out, it could become quite a manky thing if you’re living in a small terraced house,” committee chair and Green Party councillor Michael Pidgeon said.
Fianna Fáil’s Deirdre Heney said the name of the gull-proof bag may need to be reconsidered. “I would hope wildlife and protected bird species wouldn’t be denigrated. I would ask that it would be carefully posed that they’re not the problem that we’re the problem – we’re putting the waste out, we’re feeding them.”