36% rate of recycle bins being fouled 'cannot continue'

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More than a third of all household recycling bins are contaminated, the Oireachtas Committee on Communications, Climate Action and Environment has heard.

“We are still looking at 36% contamination and that cannot continue,” Kevin O’Donoghue of the department’s waste policy, resources and efficiency division, told a committee hearing yesterday.

Mr O’Donoghue was responding to senators and TDs gathered to discuss bin collection charges, the complexity of pricing by service providers, and the decision by some to charge for recyling in the light of the import ban by China which came into effect on January 1, leading to a rise in the cost of disposing of recycling.

Bin charge pricing was top of the committee’s agenda when it met with Mr O’Donoghue and Frank Conway, chairperson of the household waste collection price monitoring group (PMG) established last year.

Committee chair Hildegarde Naughton said: “Under the new arrangements for household waste charges, waste collectors can offer a range of pricing options, such as standing charges; charges per lift or per kilo; charges by weight band; weight allowance charges; or combinations of these charging methods. In addition, bin companies have started to charge for green recycling bins because of the increased costs of recycling.

“The array of fees and schemes now in operation are very complex for consumers to understand and compare and has led to concerns over charges and collection.

Removing confusion and providing clarity will not only help people manage their waste costs, but also help people recycle and cut down on unnecessary waste.

That view was echoed by a number of committee members and also by Mr Conway who said his group had experienced difficulty in getting information on pricing from service providers.

In PMG’s most recent report last month, it was revealed that eight out of more than 39 waste firms are already charging for recycling.

However, Mr Conway told the committee hearing yesterday that the overall cost of household bin collection has remained relatively stable in recent months.

Sinn Féin TD Brian Stanley said there was very little regulation of the waste collection industry. “It’s a bit of a free-for-all,” he said.

Mr Stanley advocated a franchise system of awarding collection licences which was the norm in Europe.

Mr O’Donoghue said there were problems with such a system, particularly in rural areas.

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