Bin the bags: Council to refuse sacks in latest waste war

City council seeks ideas to replace refuse sacks on streets

A bin bag ban is on the cards for thousands of Dublin householders whose homes are not suitable for wheelie bins.

Dublin City Council wants to rid the city's streets of refuse bags. However, it does not know what receptacles should replace them and is offering a €50,000 reward for the solution.

Legislation requiring the use of bins instead of refuse sacks came into force in 2016, but residents of more than 1,000 streets in the capital were exempt from the new rules because their homes were unsuitable for bins.

Streets in the city centre, or inner suburbs such as Stoneybatter and Ringsend, of terraced houses with no front gardens and no direct back access, were mostly affected. Householders 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 businesses with no waste storage facilities.


However, the council has enacted new bylaws which will enable it to ban the use of bin bags and require householders to use “waste containers suitable for reuse”.

Bags were frequently ripped apart by seagulls and foxes, and were in general unsightly on the city’s streets, the council said.

"The use of plastic bags for the storage and presentation of waste causes significant issues in respect of the creation of litter through the failure of such bags through mishandling or interference from vermin and animals," city engineer John Flanagan said.

“The appearance of waste bags presented for collection also detracts from the streetscape and visual amenity of the city generally,” he said.

However, he acknowledged there were “potential difficulties” with the storage of bins, to which the council did not have a solution.


The council decided to run a €50,000 competition for “innovative solutions” for on-street storage and presentation of household and commercial waste.

It sought “alternatives that provide for a more secure and reliable form of waste container, where the use of wheeled bins is not possible”.

The containers must have a similar capacity to a 120 or 240 litre wheelie bin. They must 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”.

While the council was responsible for waste bylaws, it did not collect waste, so the container must be capable of being adopted as a standard by the waste collection industry, the council said.

“The solution cannot require the alteration of fleet or equipment operated by the waste collection industry,” it said.

The council will select the competition winner by the end of this month. Up to three bidders may be chosen, who would then share the €50,000 fund.

Olivia Kelly

Olivia Kelly

Olivia Kelly is Dublin Editor of The Irish Times