Bin charge freeze simply kicking can down the road

By Maurice Garvey

DESPITE bin charges being frozen for all customers for 12 months, many believe the government are simply kicking the can down the road to combat public anger.

Householders were facing huge increases of up to 200 per cent from waste companies, with the proposed pay-by-weight scheme initially due to come into effect on July 1.

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On Tuesday, the government agreed a deal with waste management companies which will see the current system remain in place for 12 months - householders will have the option to switch to the pay-by-weight system during that period.

The fiasco has been cited as a shambles for the government by opponents to the price hike, including People Before Profit and Sinn Féin.

The Irish Waste Management Association denied there was a pricing cartel amongst members - Chairperson Catherine Walsh asking for “evidence” during a Pat Kenny Newstalk interview on Tuesday.

One old age pensioner from Tallaght was facing an increase from Greyhound of €50 a year to €169, and a weekly bill, despite living alone and using minimal waste sporadically.

Dublin City Councillor Greg Kelly said his Thorntons bill for 2015 (€166) would have been an extra €360, if based on the pay-by-weight charges.

“Everything councillors said about bin charges back in 2012 has come true,” said Cllr Kelly.

“Alan Kelly lied to us when he said 90 per cent of houses would pay less. Councils are going to need more staff to deal with increased dumping.”

People Before Profit TD Brid Smith, a long-term campaigner against water and waste charges, says people “opposed privatisation for essential services for these very reasons.”

Deputy Smith’s party submitted a motion to the Dáil to reverse the hikes and to reinstate waivers for low income families.

Clondalkin Councillor Mark Ward says constituents who shopped around were “dismayed to find that any company they contacted had increased their prices.”

Cllr Ward said: “I have reported this to the Competition and Consumer Protection Commission and asked them to investigate.”

Ward contacted five waste management companies to ask what contact they had with each other prior to their price hikes, but got “no response.”

Over the next year, householders will also be provided with a cost comparison that will show the amount of waste they are disposing of, their current costs and the equivalent pay-by-weight charges.

IWMA Secretary Conor Walsh said people needed more time to adjust to a pay-by-weight system.

Greyhound and City Bin, while not members of the IWMA, said they are in agreement with the new measures.

In a statement, the IWMA also said its members have agreed to "provide a weight allowance to HSE patients supplied with incontinence wear to reduce their annual waste charges.”

The companies will get a €1.5m reduction in landfill fees to offset the scheme, and will contribute the same amount to an information campaign.

After a year Housing Minister Simon Coveney said the pay-by-weight system, which is already used by 20 per cent of customers, will be introduced nationally only if it has public acceptance.

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