The Government’s plans to introduce a pay-by-weight waste collection system will go ahead next summer, having been shelved a year ago.
From July next, households will move from a flat-rate charge to a system based on the amount of waste produced. Environment Minister Alan Kelly says it will reduce costs for 87% of homeowners, but opposition politicians have branded it another stealth tax.
Collectors will be compelled to introduce a charging system that promotes greater segregation of waste, improves recycling and, according to the Government, allows householders to save on their bills.
“Currently, some householders are charged a collection rate that compensates collectors for each green/brown bin collected,” said Mr Kelly. “Even where there isn’t a direct charge for green/brown bins, the cost of this service is priced into the overall charge.
“While some people might think that this will mean that they are to be charged for the first time for the recycling bin, the reality is that all households have always been charged, in some way, for this service. Where a collector offered this bin at a zero charge, the true price was reflected in higher residual waste charges. In other words, the recycling bin was paid for by hidden cross-subsidisation.
“Under the new system, there will be no such hidden costs and customers will have clear sight of how the weight of waste they generate translates into cost. ‘Weigh less, pay less’ is the simple maxim.”
With the introduction of pay-by-weight in certain parts of the country, households bills have reduced, while recycling levels have increased.
“The message is: The more you put into your green and brown bins, the less you pay,” said Mr Kelly. “It’s better for the environment, the more we can use waste as a resource for energy, remake plastic materials, and develop an effective and efficient waste sector.
“[Pay by weight] is the most effective waste-prevention mechanism we have. Analysis using EPA and CSO data will show that 87% of households will see a reduction in their waste bills, 8.5% will see no change, and a small number of households may see a higher bill, but, with proper awareness and segregation, the potential is for everyone to see a reduced bill.”
Sinn Féin said the new system was another example of the Government’s fixation with crippling ordinary householders with stealth charges and taxes.
Sinn Féin said the record of Fine Gael and Labour in government had been marked by regressive taxes that impacted disproportionately on struggling families.
“Families will have been alarmed to learn, over the weekend, that the government parties are not yet finished sticking the boot in with reports that people will have to pay for the contents of their recyclable waste,” said Sinn Féin.
“Such a proposal confirms the concerns of Sinn Féin representatives upon the privatisation of waste collection services, when we warned that such charges would only increase over time. Not only have waste charges increased dramatically in recent years, but now we are being told that we will also be forced to pay for that waste, which can be recycled.”
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