A ban on flat fees for household waste collection and the introduction of compulsory pay-by-weight charges is being considered by Government.
The public has until Friday to make submissions to the Department of the Environment on the proposals for national regulation of the waste collection market, ahead of the drafting of legislation.
Minister for the Environment Phil Hogan last November announced his intention to regulate waste collection to address the low rates of householder participation in a collection service in some areas, insufficient segregation of waste and a lack of incentive to prevent waste.
Currently, private waste collectors can offer customers any price and any charging structure they choose. Some firms offer a flat annual or monthly charge, others include “per lift” charges and others charge by weight, with some companies offering a combination of all three. In some cases, the same company will offer different charges and charging systems in different parts of the country.
The consultation document states that flat fees "do not incentivise sustainable behaviours" and run contrary to the "polluter pays principal".
Price regulation – the setting of prices, or price floors and price ceilings – would be “inappropriate”, the document says. However, regulating the pricing structure could be used to provide a “clear financial incentive to the householder to prevent and recycle waste” and would further ensure that waste is managed in accordance with the EU waste hierarchy.
A pay-by-lift charge, where the householder pays each time they present their bin for collection, was preferable to a flat charge, where there was no connection between the amount of waste produced and the level of cost, but a charge based on the weight of waste collected had the best influence on behaviour.
“Weight-based charges are the single most effective pay- by-use system in terms of waste-prevention, waste-recycling and diversion of waste from landfill.”
This was particularly true in relation to the organic or brown bin, the document said.
Applying a per kilogramme pay-by-weight charging system for organic bins “encourages a more frequent collection of such material and thus ensures a reduction in potential odour nuisance and a better quality product to the end processor”.
Dublin city Labour councillor Mary Freehill said the consultation document represented a "missed opportunity" to establish a waste regulator.
“I would have been much more impressed if this document had focused on the introduction of a regulator.”
COLLECTION FEES: DON'T WASTE YOUR MONEY
The pricing structures of bin companies are complex and variable. Panda's customers in Dún Laoghaire Rathdown pay an annual service charge, a per-lift, and a per-kilo charge.
In Fingal, Panda charges annually and per lift, but does not apply a weight charge. However, in the Louth/Meath area the company offers four options advertised as monthly billing, 12-monthly billing, paper tags, or prepaid electronic tags.
Greyhound offers a range of options, from flat monthly fees to combinations involving weight or per lift charges. These vary depending on location and on the customer’s usage history.
Galway-based City Bin entered the Dublin market in November 2012 in a bid to rival Greyhound with a €99 annual flat fee and is now advertising a charge of €12.50 per month. Outside Dublin, the company operates weight charges.