Illegal dumping fears ahead of new 'pay by weight' bin charges
IN a little over a month's time we will all be paying by weight for the collection of waste from our black and brown wheelie bins.
But there are fears that many people will end up dumping or even burning their rubbish rather than paying what many believe will be higher charges.
The government last week dropped its plans to charge by weight for green recyclable waste, but the new system will see minimum charges for black bin waste set at 11c a kg and 6c a kg for brown waste, although who is going to police what goes into what is still in the lap of the gods.
The government, which had been planning to introduce a 2c a kg charge for green waste, considers Pay By Weight to be the best method to encourage better segregation of household waste as well as maximising waste reduction.
In a statement, Housing Minister Simon Coveney said that dropping the mandatory charge for green bins would give bin companies maximum flexibility to charge for green bins if they wanted or to absorb that cost in another part of their pricing structure.
Prices will vary depending on the collector and area and there will be a standing charge for waste collections on top of how much we pay to be collected by weight.
Regional Waste Plans have set ambitious targets to reduce waste generation in households by one per cent per annum over the next five years and to increase current recycling rates from 40 per cent to 50 per cent by 2020.
The campaign is being supported by the Irish Waste Management Association who represent the majority of waste collectors in the country.
However, in Wexford the majority of county councillors are firmly opposed to the plans which they fear will turn the clock back to the bad old days.
Wexford Independent Councillor Davy Hynes says the introduction of the pay by weight system will cause real hardship for poorer families and will be counter-productive because it will lead to increased illegal dumping.
'This is certainly a stupid decision and should not be introduced at this time when people are struggling with so many demands on their income,' said Cllr Hynes, who recently won widespread support in the council chamber urging the government to re-think the decision. 'It will hit poorer people and those with big families hardest.
'Then you have people on social welfare, the low paid, how in the name of God are they going to be able to pay for it.'
'This is going to cause a lot of hardship and then there's the other big issue of illegal dumping. If you are going to charge people to recycle based on weight, there's obviously going to be more rubbish dumped,' said Cllr Hynes.
Bunclody-based Fianna Fail Councillor Barbara-Anne Murphy said she too believed that pay by weight would lead to more illegal dumping.
'Those who care about the environment will continue to pay, but others, many of them afraid about what it's going to cost, will not,' she said.
'I don't think it was thought out at all (by the last government).. they just decided that we have to do something and this is it.
'We have huge problems around Bunclody and Enniscorthy. There was a huge clean up of Mount Leinster in April and I got a call on Saturday to say that rubbish had been dumped overnight, plus a dead cow and a dead sheep. I know these are not the things you are going to put in your wheelie bin, but what's going on now is disgusting and it's going to get worse,' she said. Sinn Fein's Fionntán Ó Súilleabháin described pay by weight as an 'absolutely crazy idea'.
'It's a stupid piece of legis lation. It's going to be counter productive and we're going to see a return to the bad old days of illegal dumping and people burning rubbish in their back yards.. we spent years trying to get Irish people into recycling, which was very successful, and now we're setting the clock back.' Commenting on the dropping of the green bins from the pay by weight system, he said the original measure, introduced in the last gasps of the Fine Gael/Labour regime was foolhardy and regressive to the point to recklessness.
Cllr Ó Súilleabháin said Sinn Fein would be tabling a motion in June urging the council to reverse the pay-by-weight plan in its entirety and would be doing the same in Leinster House. Labour member Cllr George Lawlor said the weight-based system was not something 'that ever came across our dashboard at the council'.
'It seems to be something that was introduced at national level, with little discussion at a local level,' he said.
'Aything that discourages people from recycling or gives encouragement to people who are dumping in any way is a bad move,' said Cllr Lawlor.