15 Jun

Waste charge hikes for Pay-by-Weight : How to fight back.

Waste Bin Pay-by-weight price hikes – how to fight back.

pay-by-weight bin charges ,sailing into trouble with new waste charges for pay by weight

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.

 

Background

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.

pay-by-weight typical bin weights in EU

pay-by-weight typical bin weights in EU

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.

PAY-BY-WEIGHT charges. ow much will you pay?

PAY-BY-WEIGHT charges. How much will you pay?

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.

Concerns

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.

  1. 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.
  2. 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.
  3. See if the Waste Collector has different price plans based on your volume. Pick the best option over a year.
  4. 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.
  5. Reduce your Food Waste volumes by drying the food waste before packing it in the brown bin.
  6. Dry your garden waste (if not composting it) before putting in a bin.
  7. Reduce Black bin waste by changing your consumer purchases to avoid products that do not use recyclable materials for packaging.
  8. Invest in Compost bins (have at least 2). This handles garden waste e.g. grass, raw food (fruit & veg) scraps.
  9. 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.
  10. 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. 

08 Jan

Waking up from our coffee cup nightmare

latte levy, coffee cup tax

Photo courtesy of Takahiro Sakamoto on Unsplash

The UK starts to wake up from a coffee cup nightmare, but we’re still snoring here.

Ring ring…..alarm bell ringing….wake up. Don’t press the snooze button. Just get up and smell the coffee.
Isn’t it great to see that the UK’s Environmental Audit Committee, the EAC, have released a report recommending that a 25p levy is added to hot drinks served in disposable/throwaway cups – dubbed the coffee cup tax or latte levy.
We’re delighted that the UK has, at last, woken up and started to confront the disposable cup nightmare that is growing by the day. We have the same problem in Ireland but as yet we only see procrastination at Government level, as they claim to be ‘evaluating’ options. Sounds more like like snoring?

There is simply no way this horrendous and completely avoidable problem can be put back in its box. Just watch any Sky Ocean Rescue TV programme to see the disaster that is ocean plastic pollution. The UK’s Environmental Audit Committee has, like any environmentally literate person, wisely seen the reality and recognised that the burgeoning mountain of disposable coffee cups is effectively un-recylable.
Like the situation in Ireland, it is overwhelming the UK’s waste treatment systems, polluting rivers and seas, and must be stopped. The situation cannot be allowed to continue. It’s completely at odds with the EU’s Circular Economy direction. The time has come for us all to make a stand. We need to tell the coffee shop businesses, their cup suppliers and customers to stop making and using badly designed products and expecting the us, taxpayer, to pay for their clean up.
You see, they pay only a fraction towards the infrastructure costs of the little recycling that actually goes on at present. And we will need a lot of expensive infrastructure to handle the volume of waste cups – 2.5 billion coffee cups being used yearly in the UK alone. The make up of the cups, being either wax or plastic and paper means it is difficult to separate the paper and only specialist equipment can do it properly. There are currently only three recycling facilities in the UK that can split the paper from the plastic for recycling, and none in Ireland. That’s why less than 1% of cups are recycled.
So what happens to all the used cups? They mainly go to create fuel for Incinerators or become part of the RDF (Refuse Derived Fuel) mix and get burned or end up on landfill. After a few moments of use for drinking they endure decades or longer in landfills.

Disposable Coffee cups are used for a matter of moments, but will pollute our planet for centuries to come.

Will the extra charges work?

That’s debatable. Let’s look back at the plastic bag tax, pioneered in Ireland and now widely copied around the world, most recently in Kenya  with the toughest ban to date. Plastic bag usage was drastically reduced within months. The tax started low and has steadily increased in Ireland, with the revenue raised being promised to support environmental projects. (This now seems to be under question in Ireland as transparency in the use of the funds is being eroded). However the success of the plastic bag tax generally saw an 85% or more reduction in the amount of single-use plastic bags being sold. Kenya expects to see 100% reduction due to the complete ban and the stiff penalties.
While it may work for plastic bags, it is less likely to have such an impact for coffee drinkers. It’s like raising the tax on cigarettes. It does not have a significant impact as smokers or coffee drinkers will absorb the extra cost.. Coffee prices vary from place to place so it may not be readily apparent to the consumer, who may not then take a moment to reflect and change his/her ways..

But is it just?

Why should the coffee drinker have to pay for failures of others to design suitable containers (e.g the disposable coffee cup) that can be recycled easily? We think the customer should NOT pick up this tab. It should be absorbed by the coffee shop or supplier. This will incentivise them to find better solutions, like offering re-usable cups. After all they consume the coffee and rent the container while doing so. They should therefore only pay for the coffee and let the supplier deal with the mechanics of the delivery method. This will encourage suppliers to find the best long term solution, and it will not be better disposables. We are entering the circular economy era and the old linear approach of take, make and forsake no longer works.

What we’d prefer to see is

  1. Producer pays principle. Make suppliers pay for producing mixed material packaging that is difficult to recycle (e.g. tetra paks and disposable coffee cups are such products). The producers of this waste must take financial responsibility, not the taxpayer or customer.
  2.  Clear labelling– customers must know that cups are ‘not widely recycled’ and shouldn’t be fooled by misleading indicators or green washing.
  3. Full costs recovered. The suppliers of these un-recyclable cups should pay the full cost of the infrastructure needed to recycle them and not have it subsidized by the state. The taxpayer, after all, is also the consumer here and pays twice under the levy proposals.
  4. 100% by 2020. All coffee & beverage cups being used should be 100% recycled, and if they can’t be – they should be banned from the market place.
  5.  Reward good behavour. Immediately implement standard discounts across all coffee shops for customers who bring a re-usable cup like the current Conscious Cup campaign that operates internationally.

But in the end, finding that right solution will be a matter for law and regulation, not just mere financial incentives.
As the UK’s EAC report states: “The voluntary approach is not working”. So any new legislation needs to set a date after which the continued production of unrecyclable coffee cups and other such containers is banned by law (Just like in Kenya today).

We must stop the production of all non-recyclable plastic products. Period!

Our government needs to take note of this report’s recommendations and help us to end the flow of plastic entering our landfills, oceans and food chain.

So,what can I do now?

You can take action now by joining the #consciouscup campaign and getting yourself a reusable coffee cup so you can say goodbye to the disposable cup era once and for all.
Oh, share the care by inviting your friends for a conscious cup of coffee and get them to do the same.

04 Dec

Platin Cement Burner- Skyfill is a bad idea.

 


Nov 2017 Submission to ABP Platin 

PLATIN: We’re concerned that this project will stop us recycling

Phosphorus and Nitrogen are needed to grow food , not burn as Fuel for Cement kilns.

Zero Waste Alliance Ireland (ZWAI) are very concerned at the use of recyclable materials as Refuse Derived Fuel (RDF). We know that this is a dangerous manner of turning Landfill materials into Skyfill pollution. Cement kilns are not designed to manage in an environmentally safe manner the pollutants that arise from the burning of a mix of recyclable and landfill bound materials. We have objected to An Bord Pleanala when such BAD IDEAS are proposed, most recently in Limerick and Duleek.

We made an additional Oral Submission to the Inspector of
An Board Pleanála  on the 22nd November 2017 in regard to  the  Platin Cement Proposal. It is a 10 year permission to facilitate further replacement of fossil fuel with alternative fuels  (RDF) and allow for introduction of alternative raw materials in the manufacturing of cement at Platin Works Platin, Duleek, Co Meath

ZWAI are an advocacy group promoting ways to recycle & recover materials and keep resources away from waste disposal so that they can be sustainably recycled. We are  particularly concerned about materials that are finite or are limited in their natural availability. So naturally, we question the wisdom of burning materials at the Platin Cement Kiln that in particular contain phosphorus and nitrogen.

You can read our Oral Hearing submission here.

Valuable Nutrients are lost.

The waste categories listed by Irish Cement  below are proposed to be incinerated in the cement kiln. Initially almost all of these originally required the use of Natural Gas or Coal to make the ammonia fraction of fertilizer for their growth. By burning in a cement kiln, Phosphorus will be wasted and will not be recovered. This is an essential element that is necessary for fertilizer to produce food.

Categories of waste that are proposed to be burned at Platin cement factory

CLASS

02 01 02

DESCRIPTION

animal-tissue waste

19 08 05

sludges from treatment of urban waste water

02 01 03

plant-tissue waste

02 01 06

animal faeces, urine and manure (including spoiled straw), effluent, collected separately and treated off-site

19 12 06

sludges from on-site effluent treatment other than those mentioned in 19 11 05

02 03 05

sludges from on-site effluent treatment

19 08 05

sludges from treatment of urban waste water

19 08 12

sludges from biological treatment of industrial waste water other than those mentioned in 19 08 11

19 08 14

sludges from other treatment of industrial waste water other than those mentioned in 19 08 13

Zero Waste Alliance Ireland(ZWAI) demands that Sewage Sludge or any of the other similar categories listed by “Irish Cement” that contain Nitrogen and Phosphorus should not be burned in the cement kiln for the following reasons:

  1. The Fossil Fuels (Natural Gas and Coal) that are used to make ammonia gas for fertilizer are finite and will eventually be depleted. We must reduce significantly the greenhouse gas emissions associated with the making of ammonia fertilizer. Any finite material must instead be recycled.
  2. The Burning of Nitrogen (Ammonia) and its loss to the atmosphere results in this resource being no longer available to farmers as part of the fertilizer to grow food.
  3. The emission of NOx will cause ozone in sunlight conditions. At ground levels ozone will cause ambient air pollution and should therefore be avoided.
  4. The energy of the Nitrogen (Ammonia) recovered in the Cement Kiln will not replace or be equal to the total energy required for its original manufacture, its processing as an NPK fertilizer, its transport around the world or the energy for its application on farms.
  5. Because the nitrogen is not being recycled locally to grow food it forces the continuation of this very wasteful energy intensive Harber & Bosch method that is depleting the remaining finite resources of natural gas. This failure to recycle nitrogenous waste as a fertilizer is not sustainable.
  6. The Green House gases that are generated by the manufacturing of Ammonia using the Haber & Bosch process contribute to climate change and must be reduced and eventually avoided.
  7. Phosphorus fertilizer is likely to become expensive in Europe, India and other parts of the world over the coming 20 to 40 years as the resources of the USA and China, two of the three remaining countries with phosphorus rock begin to protect their own national supplies. When “peak phosphorus” is upon us and world demand is greater than the supply then no nation will have cheap phosphorus to sell to Ireland. Unless we recycle nutrients of nitrogen and phosphorus, food prices in supermarkets that are based on fossil fuel and mined phosphorus fertilizer will become volatile, then more expensive, then affordable and eventually will not be for sale at all.
  8. Phosphorus is a finite resource that can be replaced by no other element. If burned in cement kilns this strategically important resource will be lost and wasted forever.
    We must therefore recycle Nitrogen and Phosphorus. We must avoid the possibility of a world population collapse.

We ask  An Board Pleanála to prioritize the long term public interest and put this above the private short term interests of a private business. It is not in the public interest that we should ignore the need for future food security.

01 Dec

Green Bin Rules – are we unpaid recycling workers?


green bin rules

Are we working as unpaid staff for the recycling companies?

It might seem like that when you read the revised green bin collection guidelines given by the Co Councils for household waste recycling. We must sort, separate, loosen, wash, clean and dry our materials before they go in the green bin. That’s hard work and we still have to pay them to have it taken away.

It was a surprise to listeners of Cork’s 96FM Radio station this week when we discussed the apparent ‘new green bin rules’ outlined by the Councils through the Regional Waste Management Authorities. These rules were always in place since 2014 but never policed until the rejection of recycled waste shipments by the Chinese in the past few months put waste shippers under pressure to improve their quality controls. This has resulted in a call going back to consumers here to provide ‘cleaner’ recycled materials. Rejected materials cost the waste shippers dearly and will result in higher prices here to consumers ultimately as they have to re-work the materials before re-exporting. (we don’t really do a lot of recycling in Ireland in actual fact. Our apparent ‘good recycling rates’ are just collection  and export for recycling abroad. We really need to do more real recycling and remanufacturing in Ireland and create the green jobs here. But that’s another blog topic.

More  info: PJ Coogan on Cork’s 96FM Opinion line discusses the issues with waste quality rules now being enforced on households.

Why should the items be clean and dry?

If your container contained food or liquid, then some residues will remain. These will contaminate the recycling process so they must be rinsed clean to remove the matter before going into your recycle bin (green bin). Food and liquid can contaminate the materials in the recycling bin especially the paper recycling process. Wet paper cannot be recycled.

Why is there a new list?

It’s not a new list. It will vary from area to area depending on recycling facilities available. Recycled materials such as paper and cardboard, metals and plastic are sold on the global market, by the recyclers but the prices and demand for these materials constantly change. To get the best value for our materials, they need to be cleaned and sorted. China and India are major buyers of recyclable material from Europe and they use these materials for manufacturing instead of extracting raw materials. As stated above, over the past year, China and India have enforced higher standards on received stocks.  Mixed materials such as plastics, paper or cardboard baled together or contaminated items (or those containing unrecyclable elements)  are being rejected.  To sell our bulk recyclable materials we need to be able to separate these materials quickly and easily at the recycler depots and ensure they are contaminant free.  

The cycle starts with the householder. So there are 2 things to do.

  1. Sort and clean the recyclable items from the non-recyclable ones.
  2. Only put into the green bin those items allowed. Put them in dry, clean and loose.

What about paper food containers. What is recyclable?
Any paper food container that has been soiled with food or become damp is not recyclable and should be put in the residual bin or composted. For example, pizza boxes and other fast food or takeaway containers.  (The contamination will impact the paper recycling & re-pulping process negatively so we must avoid them).

Tip. Remember you can always just tear away or cut out soiled areas of these boxes and recycle the undamaged parts. This is worth the effort if only a small area has become contaminated. 

  • Paperboard food containers such as cereal boxes, paper egg cartons, and cake mix boxes that are unsoiled are recyclable. Just remove the plastic lining and shake out extra food crumbs.
  • Empty frozen food boxes should be placed in the recycling bin  (green bin) along with Milk and juice cartons, once washed.

What About Glass?

Glass does not go in the household recycling bin. Collect all bottles and place in glass bottle banks. You may have a separate glass bin collection in some areas but if not take the bottles to your local community bring centre. Glass can be recycled repeatedly.
Beware that not all glassware can be put in glass banks such as cookware, Pyrex, plates, cups and ceramics. And don’t forget to remove the metal or plastic lids of glass items before recycling them  These lids are generally PP plastic or metal so are recyclable in the green bin.

The recyclable list.

Paper

Newspapers 

Magazines  

Junk Mail
Phone Books
Catalogues
Tissue Boxes
Sugar Bags
Calendars
Diaries
Letters
Computer Paper
Used Beverage And Juice Cartons
Milk Cartons
Egg Boxes
Paper Brochures
School Copy Books
Old School Books (If They Cannot Be Donated Or Reused)
Paper Potato Bags

Cardboard

Food Boxes
Packaging Boxes
Cereal Boxes
Kitchen Towel Tubes
Toilet Roll Tubes

Please remove any plastic inserts from cardboard boxes before placing into bin

ALUMINIUM CANS

Drinks Cans
*Empty Deodorant Cans (Plastic Lid Separate)

STEEL CANS

Pet Food Cans
Food Cans
Biscuit Tins
Soup Tins

PLASTIC CONTAINERS (PET 1)

Mineral Bottles
Water Bottles
Mouth Wash Bottles
Salad Dressing Bottles

PLASTIC CONTAINERS (HDPE 2)

 Milk Bottles
Juice Bottles
Cosmetic Bottles
Shampoo Bottles
Household Cleaning Bottles
Laundry Detergent Bottles
Window Cleaning Bottles
Bath Room Bottles
Containers Should Be Empty When Being Placed Into Recycling Bin

PLASTIC CONTAINERS (PP 5)

Yoghurt Containers
Margarine Tubs
Rigid Food Packaging
Liquid Soap Containers
Fruit Containers (With Netting Removed)

See www.repak.ie for a full list.

What’s NOT allowed in the green bin.

Put wrappers in the residual bin – they’re not recyclable

It’s especially important to know what to leave out. These items shouldn’t be in your recycling bin:

  • Contaminated Packaging (greasy, dirty or with residue). like we said above. (Cut out contaminated areas if you can)
  • Non recyclable plastic wrappings, like sweet wrappers, Tayto bags, plastic shopping bags. These plastics are not recyclable or can damage the recycling processes used for other  recyclable plastics.
  • Nappies and Sanitary Products, medicines, medical waste (including baby wipes) – put in the residual waste bin
  • Food Waste (raw or cooked) – put in your food waste bin (if there is a collection)  or compost the cooked food in your composter.
  • Grass, Garden Cuttings / Soil – put in your composter.
  • Polystyrene (EPS) – there may be separate collection or bring to your civic amenity centre.
  • Liquids/ Oils  – bring to your civic amenity centre.
  • Textiles – including clothes/shoes and home furnishings – bring to your civic amenity centre.
  • Dismantled Furniture – bring to your civic amenity centre
  • Light Bulbs, Batteries &Electrical and Electronic Equipment (remove the plugs and re-use them)
  • Other General waste that should be in the General waste Bin. e.g. building rubble

So there you have the list and you know what to do. So do you still think you’re working for the recyclers, for free? Let us know your thoughts on our FB page .

22 Nov

EU Waste Directive – Ambition needed

OPEN LETTER TO MINISTER NAUGHTON.

To the Minister for Communications, Climate Action and Environment

Re: Final steps for more ambitious EU waste legislation – your help is needed

Dear Minister Naughton,

The 2018 Climate Change Performance Index highlights Ireland as being the worst performing country in Europe for action on climate change. (https://www.climate-change-performance-index.org/). The Index is produced annually on the basis of joint analysis by two leading European think-tanks. It places Ireland 49th out of 56 countries, a drop of 28 places from last year.

The expert report lays bare the continuing and disturbing contradiction between the Irish Government’s rhetoric on climate change and the stark reality of very poor progress made here. However, we can redeem ourselves and play catch up. Here is one way to do so if we are serious about our deteriorating Environmental conditions.

At the moment final stage of the negotiations within the European Council’s Working Party on the Environment regarding amendments to the EU Waste Directive is fast approaching.

We in the Zero Waste movement are calling on all environmentally conscious politicians to urgently support ambitious measures in three key areas:

  1. more ambitious recycling targets;
  2. urgent action on tackling marine litter; and
  3. immediate action to curb food waste.

We actively support the ambitions of better resource and waste management in Ireland and the EU and the move towards a truly Circular Economy. However, we are concerned about the obstructing position of the Council, undermining the negotiations of the Waste Directives as well as job creation and environmental progress in the EU.

As the fifth trilogue negotiation approaches, we call on you and the government to support the following three key measures in the Council’s mandate for the Trilogue of 27th November 2017:

Higher targets for preparation for reuse and recycling, and mandatory separate collection:

In order to gain the maximum benefits of resource savings and job creation, it is essential to support a target of 70% of municipal solid waste to be prepared for reuse and recycled by 2030. Countless European countries and municipalities have shown this is possible to achieve.

In addition, a key legislative step to reach this target is to remove loopholes around compulsory separate collection and pricing anomalies such as flat rate fees which we see in Ireland

Tackling marine litter: Include a European Union wide marine litter reduction target of

  • 30% by 2025 and
  • 50% by 2030

for the ten most common types of litter found on beaches (mainly plastics), as well as for fishing gear found at sea, with the list adapted to each of the four marine regions in the EU.

Curbing food wastage: Include a European Union wide food waste reduction target of

  • 30% by 2025 and
  • 50% by 2030, from farm to fork.

In parallel, introduce a review clause calling on the European Commission to propose a binding target by 2020 once baseline data and a clear methodology are available, and support the introduction of a standardized food waste hierarchy.

Please do not hesitate to contact us for further information and discussion. Thanks for giving this your consideration,

Best regards,

Sean Cronin,

Director

Zero Waste Alliance Ireland

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