Fianna Fáil to propose regulator for waste industry

Minister Denis Naughten tells consumers to ‘shop around’ for cheapest waste charges

Green Party leader Eamon Ryan said it was wrong to leave the consumer in the grip of bin companies and called for local authorities to take charge of waste collection.  Photograph: Bryan O’Brien

Green Party leader Eamon Ryan said it was wrong to leave the consumer in the grip of bin companies and called for local authorities to take charge of waste collection. Photograph: Bryan O’Brien

 

Fianna Fáil is to table a Dáil motion calling for a regulator for the waste industry in response to the changes to bin charges announced this week.

Party sources said the motion would be tabled in private members time next week.

Many Fianna Fáil TDs expressed anger at the Government’s move, which could see some households pay higher bin charges, at Wednesday’s meeting of their parliamentary party but senior party sources said that the Government move was not a breach of the confidence and supply agreement.

They stressed it was a Government decision.

The party will seek cross-party support for the motion on the regulator.

Minister for Environment Denis Naughten received Cabinet approval to roll out a new waste scheme from July 1st at Tuesday’s Cabinet meeting.

Mr Naughten said on Wednesday householders would have to “shop around” to get the best prices from refuse collection operators under the new pay-by-weight charges system being introduced next month.

Flat-fee charges will be abolished under the new waste scheme and householders that send more waste to landfill could face higher bills.

Transparency

Fianna Fáil environment spokesman Timmy Dooley called for regulation of the new scheme to ensure transparency around the cost of collection, warning there was no indication how much consumers would have to pay under the new system.

However, Mr Naughten said it would be up to consumers to “shop around and get the best price from operators”, adding that the new system offered more flexibility and that the current “one size fits all” charge was unfair on those who recycle.

“We want people to think about what they are putting in their bins and to reduce waste,” said Mr Naughten on Newstalk Breakfast, adding that Irish families dispose of €700 worth of food in their bins every year.

The minister also warned there would be a 17 per cent shortfall in landfill sites within the next few years. “The alternative is to find new landfill sites or reduce the amount of waste.”

‘Hatched up’

Mr Dooley said the scheme had been “hatched up” between Mr Naughten and the waste industry and called for a competitive tendering process for waste collection in specific areas. The successful applicant could then provide the whole service to an area, rather than “three trucks charging around an estate”, he told RTÉ’s Today with Seán O’Rourke.

He expressed concern that people previously on the flat fee system – paying about €17 a month – would have no idea how much they would end up paying under the proposed changes.

“It is not at all clear. Effectively the service is being handed over to private companies. There will be the potential for gouging by operators.”

He added that the new scheme could impact badly on low income families.

Those who are affected by the changes should contact their waste provider immediately to find out how their current package will change, said Dermott Jewell from the Consumers’ Association of Ireland.

“One of the benefits of this past year is there is a record online so consumers can go to their provider, key in their account number and it will show them the weight of all their bins,” said Mr Jewell. “They’ll get an idea of what their usage is and an indication of the new charge and will be able to focus on reducing that weight.”

“If service providers pitch the price too high from day one, it could be too costly even if you do reduce your waste. That’s not the intention behind this. You should be able to ultimately save money.”

Green Party leader Eamon Ryan said it was wrong to leave the consumer in the grip of bin companies and called for local authorities to take charge of waste collection through contracts with providers or by taking over the service themselves.