Waste Bin Pay-by-weight price hikes – how to fight back.
With the new pay-by-weight charges coming into force on July 1, 2016, we are seeing a lot of profiteering taking place. Contracts already in place with consumers are being terminated and they are being offered new contracts with much higher overall charges in the majority of cases. But is this fair?
The new regime was supposed to cut costs for recycling consumers and encourage waste reduction. The standing charges, lift fees, service fees and admin charges are unlinked to the volume and weight of waste collected, whether brown or black bins are involved. The minimum rates per kg outlined in the legislation are being inflated with the 11c rate (min specified) now transforming to a range of 28-39c/kg depending on the waste collecting Company involved.
The legislation had a fatal flaw – it did not set maximum rates. This has opened up a profiteering scenario, that the private operators have now, not surprisingly, seized. The result – typical annual bills for consumers will jump by over 90 % or more. Once actual estimate we have seen is a low volume household bill going from €113 p.a. to €274 p.a with a Dublin waste collector.
Initially the old Department of the Environment estimated that the legislation would lead to a 25pc reduction in waste going to landfill sites and lower consumer bills to those who recycle more and waste less. But they got their numbers seriously wrong and as we write government ministers are sticking to this script without realising the actual scenario now in play as waste operators take advantage of the opportunity to bolster their incomes and profits.
There will be as much outrage on this issue once the new contracts and first bills arrive as we had with water charges. Expect to see some public anger on display.
The EU Waste Framework Directive is the source of this legislation originally, which attempts to reduce waste to landfill volumes. At the moment, people pay waste collection by a variety of means, including flat fees, service fees, pay-per-collection and pay-by-weight.
The pay by weight applied only to non-recyclable waste. Recyclable waste was free to collect. (Green/Brown bin). Some collectors just charged a flat rate regardless of weight collected. This will now change to new rates for non-recyclable waste and recyclable waste. Waste companies will no longer be allowed to charge an annual flat rate to customers.
How does the new regime work?
Collection systems will remain as before. Flat rates will disappear and pay by weight will apply to all waste collected. The various fees for admin, pickup, service and standing will remain (and probably increase ).
How much will we pay?
In reality there is no max price and bills will depend on the volume of waste generated. People will pay for volume/weight, bin collection and service fees for providers.
The full charges are only now being announced by waste contractors and they vary a lot, but the minimum charges set by the Department will work out as follows:
- Residual household waste (black or grey bin): 11 cent per kg
- Food waste (brown bin):6 cent per kg
However, the reality being proposed by waste collectors, as per their new contracts is : black bin – 39c, brown bin – 26c (typical actual charges)
The government initially planned an additional ( rather idiotic) charge for recycling or ‘green’ bin waste. However, following a campaign that showed the negative impact on recycling volumes, they changed their minds and that charge will not be applied when the new collection system comes into effect on 1st July. But, be warned that it might appear in the future.
Will we be better off?
The Department of the Environment said that the majority (87pc) of households will save money with a pay-by-weight system in place, as those with four people or less will pay lower charges. They estimated that households with five people (8.8pc of the total) would pay approximately the same under pay-by-weight charges as they would under a flat fee or a pay-by-collection system. But only those with six or more persons (4.5pc of the total, or more than 74,000 people) are likely to see an increase in their costs.
They got their figures very wrong and did not anticipate the big price hikes, well above the minimum limits outlined.
Based on our evidence very, very few households will be better off. The majority will see large price hikes as the early evidence now shows.
The new pricing structure will NOT incentivize people to re-cycle more, avoid waste entirely or simply cut their waste burden. The costs are too biased towards the service fees and overhead charges that are not volume related. This must be changed.
There must be a way for very low volume producers to combine and share bins, or simply to choose a low cost DIY option using local council facilities or allotment facilities.
10 ways to keep your costs down.
These actions will help to trim your bills.
- Cancel your contract and deal with your own waste by composting, wormery and deliver black bags and recycling items to the local Council recycling Site. (this may become impossible in the future as legislation will require everyone to be part of a collection system). But while enforcement is not evident take the benefit.
- Shop around for a better waste collector (it may not be possible everywhere but ask around and see who else can offer a service). Get the best price possible for your expected waste volumes.
- See if the Waste Collector has different price plans based on your volume. Pick the best option over a year.
- Apply portion control to your food servings. We waste over 30% of the food we buy. Only buy what you need, avoid it going out of date and cook only what you need and then, finish your plate.
- Reduce your Food Waste volumes by drying the food waste before packing it in the brown bin.
- Dry your garden waste (if not composting it) before putting in a bin.
- Reduce Black bin waste by changing your consumer purchases to avoid products that do not use recyclable materials for packaging.
- Invest in Compost bins (have at least 2). This handles garden waste e.g. grass, raw food (fruit & veg) scraps.
- Invest in a Food Waste Cone (food digester). This will naturally digest your food waste in the garden (meat, fishbones included) and pet waste. You only need to empty the system every 1-2 years.
- Buy a wormery. It’s a great way to deal with food scraps and get great nutrients for your garden.
Opportunity to adopt a ZERO Waste lifestyle.
This is a good opportunity to adopt a ZERO WASTE lifestyle and avoid being a victim of the profiteering waste industry and the ill-conceived legislation that must be amended urgently to genuinely incentivize the ‘zerowasters’ and those very low waste producers.
Check out our recent posts here.
Time to vent your thoughts on Climate Change?
No one hears your thoughts on the environment unless you make them known.
So now you have a chance to let the Government know, through the Citizens assembly. We’ve had too much green washing and too little action by Governments in Ireland over the past decade to help us fight climate change and this is a time to let them know how frustrated we are about it. The Citizens Assembly submissions process on “How the State can make Ireland a leader in tackling climate change” is now open (link to form below). So go have your say. It can be as long or short as you want.
The submissions process on “How the State can make Ireland a leader in tackling climate change” is now open. The closing date for submissions on the topic is Friday 11th of August.
Members of the public, representative groups and citizen organisations are urged to make a submission to the Assembly.
Will they listen?
Well, the Assembly has been tasked with considering some of the most complex topics facing Irish society and now it will be looking at something that has posed a challenge for societies right across the world. Climate change, specifically one country or another’s capacity to lead or to step back from the issue, is a global talking point right now. So it is timely for us all in Ireland to be participate in this discussion.
What aspects of Climate Change will the Assembly look at?
In order to give this topic due consideration, the Assembly will meet over two weekends to consider it; 30th September/ 1st October and 6th/7th November; a second weekend has been added to allow the members to consider this important issue more fully to enhance the discussion and the eventual recommendations which emerge.
Submissions are invited across the full spectrum of issues in relation to Climate Change, but in particular, the Assembly would like to hear views on Ireland’s energy, transport, waste management and agriculture sectors.
In addition, the Assembly is working to dovetail the work of the Assembly with work about to be undertaken by the advisory group on the National Dialogue on Climate Change. That group will consider how the State can properly engage the wider public, that’s us all, on the issue of climate change. So submissions addressing this aspect are also welcome.
Will your input be read? How will your submission be used?
The first answer is Yes. All submissions will be published on the Assembly’s website, and a summary will be prepared for the Members of the Assembly in advance of the September meeting. The submissions will play a key role in helping develop the work programme on the topic and can ultimately shape the recommendations being made by the members to the Houses of Oireachtas. The Assembly has already begun to publish the submissions received to date on their site.
Want to talk to them too?
That’s possible too. You see, according to the Assembly’s Rules and Procedures following receipt of submissions on any matter, the Assembly may choose to hear oral presentations from any representative group or individual to assist in its deliberations. As such those wishing to be considered to address the Assembly should first make a submission.
What will be the outcome of the deliberations?
According to the resolution establishing the Assembly, the Assembly must report and make recommendations to the Houses of the Oireachtas. This is done by means of a voting by the members. The resolution goes on to say that the Government will provide in the Houses of the Oireachtas a response to each recommendation of the Assembly and, if accepting the recommendation, will indicate the time frame it envisages for the holding of any related referendum
Ok. that’s clear. So How do I make a submission?
Submissions can be made online using the form below or by post to: 16 Parnell Square, Dublin 1, D01 X9Y2. To arrive no later than 11th of August 2017. Online submissions will remain open until 5pm on 11th August.
All documents received by the Assembly secretariat may be listed on the website, in order of date received and displayed with a name/name of organisation, and the title of the submission.
START YOUR SUBMISSION HERE
So to save time, go have a look at previous submissions online and pick the points you want to support. Then the ideas will start to flow. Kep it short and punchy though, so it is read quickly.
Here’s some useful documents to reference in your piece. (good info at your fingertips)
This video was made in collaboration with The Green DiaryThe first-ever Zero Waste Festival in Ireland was held this past Sunday, 25 June 2017.The event was a roaring success with festival-goers treated to a range of talks, screenings, workshops, meet-ups, info stands, as well as a market and swap shop.The sold-out event was a great opportunity to network, share and learn, and is a positive step in moving Ireland toward a zero waste future.
Posted by Irish Environmental Network on Wednesday, June 28, 2017
There’s nothing like passionate individuals showing by example how a Zero Waste approach to everyday purchasing and living can be achieved with a little care and planning.
This Video say’s it all really so enjoy and take up the challenge to live a little closer to Zero. The best way to reduce your packaging waste is to stop purchasing heavily packaged items. Avoidance is the first step. Even the longest journey starts with a small step. No matter what number you are starting from your journey to achieve Zero Waste.
Avoidance is the first step.
Even the longest journey starts with a small step. No matter what number you are starting from your journey to achieve Zero Waste is a progression to Avoid, Reduce, Reuse , Recycle and get others to join you.
By showing others how to Reduce their Waste burden and offering to share tips and information you will have a bigger impact than you think. Make your views known to retailers and manufacturers that you no longer want to be a packaging waste victim. The more of us that do so the sooner will the
Make your views known to retailers and manufacturers that you no longer want to be a packaging waste victim. The more of us that do so the sooner will changes happen.
WATER WASTE METERING ARRIVED?
We give a very qualified welcome to yesterday’s WASTE CHARGES Announcement by Minister Naughton of the Department of Communications, Climate Action & Environment (see text in the annex below). It starts the ball rolling on waste reduction initiatives but does not go far enough to ensure recycling, waste avoidance and consumer incentives are accelerated.
600,000 customers in the Dublin will see an impact in the coming months and this will be in the form of higher pricing, unfortunately, as waste collectors avail of the new rules to increase profits. The rest of Ireland will follow suit as waste collectors avail of this opportunity to raise prices to cover their own rising costs.
|We review the news under three aspects, the good points, the bad and the ugly consequences.|
- This announcement gives WASTE OPERATORS four months to roll out brown bins (Food Waste) to thousands of people around the country. Something that was supposed to be done a year ago but is only coming along in a sporadic way. Many areas have no Brown bin service at present. Naughten agrees with us that far too much food and organic waste is ending up in the regular black bins.
So to ramp up recycling, all waste collectors will be required to start rolling-out food and organic brown bins to all localities nationwide with a population greater than 500 people ( Currently it is 1,500, but not implemented widely yet)
- Under the new scheme, waste collectors have the flexibility to offer pricing options to their customers which the government hopes will incentivise recycling.
These options include the choice of standing charges, per-lift, per-kilo, weight-bands, as well as weight allowance charges. Some of these schemes are already in place, mainly outside Dublin. In a normal market, this will allow the most efficient and cost effective operators to provide the best services for consumers, but this is Ireland and it doesn’t always end up as such.
- Flat fee charges are to be scrapped. This mitigated against a reduction in volumes as no incentive existed for greener-minded consumers. Instead, a pay by weight/volume in effect will be put into operation.
- They do not plan to build any new Landfills, but will focus on reducing the volumes of waste in all aspects.
- He wants to shift direction to a Zero Waste destination. Welcome on board Minister
To combat the inevitable price rises the Minister asks us to ‘shop around’. Hmmm’.
- Price rises are unlimited – no upper price fixed. They will allow the private market to set their own pricing. There may be monopoly pricing or collusion. Think ‘Insurance Industry’ here to imagine how it might unravel.
- No waiver scheme has yet been produced in any detailed way.
- No Waste regulator is outlined- in particular, a pricing regulator for waste management activities (landfill, incinerator gate fees, bin charges etc). The EPA is purely engaged in Environmental policy and enforcement.
- The pay-by-weight scheme, which was due to come into place from 1 January, was delayed last December 2016 amid public outrage on price gouging by collectors. While this announcement says pay-by-weight in not coming, in the actual impact it is. Operators will charge by supplements and penalties for weights/volumes over fixed levels. This is current practice in certain areas, where amounts over 30kg are billed at 30c per kilo. We would prefer is there was not base level to allow very low usage to benefit from the reduced costs.
- Apartment blocks
Naughten said work is underway to tackle the waste that is generated by people living in apartment blocks but this should have been done in advance of this announcement and highlights the lack of progress on implementation issues to date.
- The Minister said a new awareness campaign will also be rolled-out to educate people how to segregate their recycling. Remember the ‘Race Against Waste’ and ‘Stop Food Waste‘ campaigns. They were underfunded and limited. Do not repeat this without an adequate budget to educate and win hearts and minds. This takes time, effort and money and needs the NGO sector to be an integral part. (The plan to enlist volunteer ‘Waste Ambassadors’ by the Regional Waste Authorities is not a dependable campaign). Involving NGOs, who have dedicated and dependable supporters would seem a better option as it will give it continuity when the payments cease to the commercial partners subcontracted for the PR campaign.
- The biggest problem facing Waste Collectors at present is contamination (30% of recycling materials volume is contaminated). (Food waste mixed with recyclables, wet cardboard etc). This contamination diverts material that could be recycled to landfill so is easily avoided if we educate our population to prepare the recyclables properly.
- To combat the inevitable price rises the Minister asks us to ‘shop around’. With 67 waste operators in Ireland, he said households should compare prices and what’s on offer. But in many places, there is simply no choice. The Minister needs a rethink here on how to create a competitive market on a national level.
- No new actions are outlined for Glass , Plastic and disposable containers like coffee cups. There is urgent action needed to address these issues similar to the Plastic Bag levy that could have an immediate impact e.g. Refundable Bottle returns, Disposable Coffee Cup tax and a major Pet plastic recycling initiative to name but three. Alas, the imagination of the Government is blinded by Incinerator smoke when we need a clear vision.
- “We are going to provide flexibility for operators to ensure that if people segregate more or produce less waste, they will pay less,” said the minister. We would be cautious of this as it could lead to an outbreak of illegal dumping as economic stress on consumers could force them into fly-tippling (especially of the heavier weight items). It’s already happening.
Food Waste is a timebomb waiting to explode. This is the heaviest fraction by weight and when collected generally will impose a big cost on consumers.
There needs to be a focus on education, consumer behaviour and food preparation to reduce the waste in the first instance. This is not a simple task as it involves food growers, distributors, retailers and consumers before anything lands in the brown bin. We also need to encourage Food Waste Recycling, redistribution and treatment in a full Circular Economy approach. Past experience in Ireland has shown that we plan well and create lots of reports but fail miserably on implementation. Failure in this National Food Waste project will result in a very ugly (and smelly) environment if all the pieces do not dovetail.
The entire privatisation of waste management was & still remains a complete mess. It needs to be changed to Local area franchises, one company per area for limited periods, at tendered pricing to Councils or Waste Management regions and managed by a price regulator. It might get ugly putting this in place with vested interests not willing to cede ground but the consumer will be the ultimate winner.
The changes will generate consumer anger and resentment. We think the Minister underestimates the feelings on this issue just as the same inertia applied to water charges.
Firstly, we must understand that these ‘new measures’, are just a remarketed version of the same old existing regulations that were postponed. They will come with increased costs for the end consumer. It will generate anger and resentment. We think the Minister underestimates feeling on this issue just as the same inertia applied to water charges. Water metering was rejected but will Waste Metering suffer the same fate? Will we see Wheelie Bins on the streets, and not the pavements, in October?
IS PAY BY WEIGHT BEING SCRAPED?
Not in reality. The pay by weight previously proposed a scheme, such as it was, is NOT being scrapped. It’s just been built into pricing by weight with thresholds, through PR spinning. There will be no Minimum or maximum pricing and no flat rate.
So…what to expect next
(a) expect bin bills to further rise. It’s a commercial business and collectors need to make a profit. There will be no price war, just rising prices from all collectors.
(b) Also expect fly tipping to increase, as those who cannot afford the costs resort to illegal dumping and transfer the cleanup costs to the local authority.
(c) Maybe those Wheelie bins may move from pavement to street in a protest rally when and if the price rises are significant and widespread in October.
This Minister had the opportunity to find an equitable solution and take new initiatives to really ensure waste is eliminated at the source but he wasted that opportunity. We will all pay the price of such failure, the consequences might smell to high heaven.
————————— Annex – Press Release text ———————————–
Press release by Minister Naughton. 27/6/17
Press Release: Minister Denis Naughten announces Household Waste Collection Charging Arrangements
The Minister for Communications, Climate Action and Environment, Denis Naughten, T.D., today (27 June 2017) confirmed that a more flexible framework for waste collection charges has been approved by Government.
The Minister stated “Allowing for a range of charging options, which most consumers are already familiar with, will encourage householders to reduce and separate their waste while choosing the service-price offering that best suits their circumstances and allows them manage their costs. Therefore, I have decided not to impose a compulsory ‘one size fits all’ per-kilogramme charging system on waste collectors.”
The amount of waste sent to landfill has increased in the last two years. In 2016, there was insufficient capacity to dispose of residual waste and emergency powers were invoked by the regulatory authorities to make additional landfill capacity available. It is important to act now to encourage waste reduction to avert a return to an over-dependence on landfill. An incentivised pricing structure for household waste collection is an important measure in this regard.Under the new arrangement, waste collectors will be given the flexibility to continue to offer, or to introduce, a range of incentivised pricing options to their customers. These options include elements or combinations of standing charges, and per-lift, per-kilogramme.
Under the new arrangement, waste collectors will be given the flexibility to continue to offer, or to introduce, a range of incentivised pricing options to their customers. These options include elements or combinations of standing charges, and per-lift, per-kilogramme, weight-bands, and weight allowance charges.
A “one size fits all” mandatory, nationwide per-kilogramme charging system will not be implemented.
However, ‘all-in flat rate’ charging for household waste will start to be phased out as customers renew or enter new service contracts.
All waste collectors will be required to start rolling-out food/organic “brown” bins to all localities nationwide with a population greater than 500 people. This will help more households divert waste away from their standard black bins. Further consideration will be given to extending ‘brown’ bin coverage in phases to smaller localities.An annual support of €75 will be introduced for persons with lifelong/long-term medical incontinence. This support will help people meet the average annual cost of disposal of incontinence products. The details and arrangements of this support will be finalised later this year, after further consultation with the stakeholder groups.
An annual support of €75 will be introduced for persons with lifelong/long-term medical incontinence. This support will help people meet the average annual cost of disposal of incontinence products. The details and arrangements of this support will be finalised later this year, after further consultation with the stakeholder groups.
In support of the new arrangements, the three Regional Waste Management Planning Offices will implement an information and awareness campaign in the third quarter of the year.
We are delighted to see the Green Party launch their Waste Reduction Bill 2017. The Bill calls for much needed practical steps to combat plastic pollution. A deposit refund scheme is outlined for glass and plastic bottles and a complete ban sought on single use non-recyclable plastics, such as disposable cups.
We are aware more than most in Zero Waste Ireland that the issue of plastic pollution is a massive global challenge and a blight on our own country. According to the Green Party, every year, over 110 million tonnes of plastic is produced. Of this, up to 43% ends up in landfill.
The amount of plastic waste created in Ireland is actually unknown, as the EPA is only obliged to report on plastic packaging waste and microplastic waste created by a range of industries is currently not measured or even regulated. Microplastics are so small, less than 5mm in diameter, they escape the filters of most wastewater treatment plants.
But, with an estimated 32 per cent of plastic packaging escaping collection systems entirely, the high levels of wastage and litter from single-use plastic packaging has become a campaigning issue around the world.
So what’s the alternative?
Glass and aluminium can be recycled indefinitely without any impact to quality. The same is not the case for plastic. When a plastic bottle is recycled it is downcycled – it is not made into another plastic bottle. Instead, plastic is turned into a lesser strength plastic and turned into items such as carpets, bags, pens etc. These items then eventually end up in a landfill so a plastic bottle of coke will eventually go the landfill after a temporary spell of being a bag but a can or glass bottle can keep becoming a can or bottle forever.
Not all plastic bottles are put in the recycling bin and may end up in a landfill or worse. Even if it is sent for recycling there are reports that some recycling plants can’t handle the volume so end up dumping the material or sending to incinerators instead
Zero-waste home movement
So, what can we do to combat our high usage of plastics – some of which isn’t recyclable? One action could be to ban the use of non-recyclable bottles in your own life, like the founder of the zero-waste home movement, Bea Johnson. She refuses anything made from plastic and avoids its use at home completely. Here, in Ireland, we proudly initiated the first plastic bag tax in the world in 2002 and many countries now also ban or charge for single-use carrier bags, resulting in an over 90 per cent drop in their usage.
“90 per cent of microplastics channelled through the waste water treatment system is ending up in the sewage sludge and 10 per cent is still going out in our treated water, which then goes back into our rivers and our lakes,
A very worrying trend that ZWAI are concerned about is the rate of increase in Plastic pollution. (see below for more info) . With over 8 million tonnes of plastic leaking into oceans each year, at the current rate, we are on route to having more plastic in the ocean than fish by 2050. So, in this regard, the purpose of the proposed Green’s bill is quite simple – to reduce the amount of plastic consumed in Ireland every year, and encourage recycling.
For ZWAI, this Green Party bill is overdue and needs to be enacted urgently to stem the plastic tide. We are confident that sanity will prevail and that all parties in the Dáil will support the Bill.
Much of the plastic ends up in the environment. In a recent report, Coastwatch Ireland found that 80 per cent of surveyed coastal sites contained litter, with plastic bottles being the major type of litter. A recent survey by Coastwatch Ireland also showed 89% of people would support a deposit refund scheme.
Evidence indicates that the best way to tackle plastic pollution is to stop it entering the environment in the first place. Deposit refund schemes are a tried and tested approach that works well in a number of other countries.
ZWAI has advocated for a beverage container tax. This would be in the form of a beverage container deposit-refund scheme, operating nationally. It must be targeted at encouraging glass bottle re-use and elimination of plastic containers where possible.
The United Nations Environment #CleanSeas campaign is urging governments to pass plastic-reduction policies while also targeting industry to minimise plastic packaging and redesign products. Our proposed bill will nicely dovetail into this effort.
But the groundbreaking New Plastics Economy report from the Ellen McArthur Foundation is perhaps the best source of hope. Published in 2016, it is a comprehensive analysis of what the industry must do to transform the production and consumption of plastic.
It starkly points out that if the current strong growth of plastics usage continues, the plastics sector will account for 20 percent of the total oil consumption and 15 percent of the global annual carbon budget by 2050.
The report calls for a global protocol on plastics to reduce the use of harmful and non-recyclable plastics, to standardise labelling and improve the collection, sorting and reprocessing systems.
Circular economy model
In line with the circular economy model (where materials are put back into use at their highest functional level), the ZWAI and Ellen McArthur Foundation are part of the chorus of voices that wants plastics to be reused, recycled and redesigned in an economically and environmentally sound way.
Let’s get behind this proposed Bill and make our feelings known to Oireachtas members.
How bad is the plastic problem globally?
Published in the journal Science in February 2015, a study conducted by a scientific working group at UC Santa Barbara’s National Center for Ecological Analysis and Synthesis (NCEAS), quantified the amount of plastic waste going from land to ocean. The results: every year, 8 million metric
The results are shocking : every year, 8 million metric tons of plastic end up in our oceans. It’s equivalent to five grocery bags filled with plastic for every foot of coastline in the world. In 2025, the annual input is estimated to be about twice greater, or 10 bags full of plastic per foot of coastline. So the cumulative input for 2025 would be nearly 20 times the 8 million metric tonnes estimated – 100 bags of plastic per foot of coastline in the world!