What is going into those green bins?

Sir, – Apparently the Government is considering launching a new public awareness campaign in the coming weeks to encourage waste segregation following the revelation that 160 containers of recyclable waste were returned to Ireland in recent months because of contamination ("Cameras to monitor what waste is being placed in green bins", February 23rd).

Sources in the waste industry say the contamination rate is increasing and now accounts for 40 per cent of green bin waste, and Minister for the Environment Denis Naughten has said that people are deliberately disposing of general waste in recycle bins to save on collection charges, using tricks such as putting used nappies in cereal boxes.

Of course this means that a new public awareness campaign is a complete waste of money. Anyone who hides used nappies in a cereal box and then dumps it in green waste knows exactly what they are doing. Furthermore the proposal to introduce penalties for this practice is also doomed to failure in Ireland as two-thirds of litter fines are unpaid in Dublin city already (News, February 21st).

The solution is to introduce a simple, very cheap system of litter disposal, based on disposal bags for each category of litter and costing under €5 per bag. Recycle centres with general and specialised facilities should cost at most €2 for anyone taking the time and trouble to travel to them, thereby removing the incentive to dump in the countryside.


The subsidy needed to finance this system should come from the property tax – it is a local charge and waste disposal is normally financed by this tax across Europe.

Of course our politicians will not take this course. They will moralise about the need to segregate waste and avoid dumping, ignoring the fact that these offenders have no morals; they will waste taxpayers’ money on worthless publicity campaigns; they will load compliant homeowners with higher recycle collection charges, and then pretend to be horrified when outright dumping increases.

We have to face the facts. Unlike other countries, such as the Germany or the Scandinavian nations, Ireland has no stomach for penalising these offenders and so should adapt the system to this reality – make proper waste disposal so cheap and simple that nearly everyone will use it.

It is a better use of taxation to subsidise such a system than paying to clean up illegal dumping or deal with rejected and contaminated recyclable waste.– Yours, etc,



Co Wicklow.

Sir, – Recyclable waste returned to Ireland. I’m ashamed but not surprised. This shows a complete lack of discipline or pride. You can see it in the litter in the street! – Yours, etc,



Co Wicklow.