A single tea bag and four biscuits have resulted in people being fined for bin waste contamination, it has been claimed.

People Before Profit councillor John Lyons yesterday revealed a “couple of pensioners” were fined by their bin provider for having a tea bag in their recycling waste.

However, the claim at a press conference was refuted by Greyhound.

“The one particular example that I have here today of a couple of pensioners who are literally threatened because a teabag was found in the green bin, the recycling bin,” he said.

“They not only threatened them with a €30 fine but they were also going to charge them 35c per kilogramme for the content of that bin to be disposed of, and if they did do this again their green bin would be taken away from them,” he added.

This was disputed by the bin provider, Greyhound.

“Nobody is presented with a surcharge for having a single teabag in their green bin,” a spokesman for the company said.

Another claim made at the press conference yesterday was that a woman, Nicola McHugh, had been fined for having four biscuits in her recycling bin.

She was also a Greyhound customer.

“Nicola’s fine was received the other day. Nicola is on disability payment, she has tumours in her body, she is not able to work.

“She has a number of children. This was quite a shock to somebody who’s living on low income to receive this,” said PBP’s Deputy Bríd Smith.

Ms McHugh spoke at the press conference regarding her interactions with the waste company.

“I just received the letter in the post and it had said my bin was contaminated, and when I rang them I asked them what was wrong with the bin, they said that they had video evidence that there were four toffee pop biscuits in the bin.

“My bins are kept in the front garden, the kids are using the bins constantly.

“Anyone can put anything in anyone’s bins, they’re outside,” Ms McHugh said.

“Even passers-by are probably putting stuff into your bin, unknown to you, you’re getting the fine then for it,” she added.

Ms McHugh said she will not pay the fine and instead take her household waste to her local dump. She also said the risk of contamination is causing her to not want to recycle.

Greyhound was also asked about this claim and referred the Irish Examiner to a statement about the fines’ process.

“Greyhound, like many other waste companies, operates a fair usage policy whereby householders who persistently present contaminated green bins are presented with a surcharge. Only bins that are consistently heavy over a long period are selected for monitoring,” said the spokesman.

“The householder is then informed in writing that their green bin is being monitored and are provided with ample time to change the way they segregate their waste.

“When their bins are checked and are found to be contaminated, pictures are taken and a surcharge is issued. The householder is then given 14 days to appeal,” he added.

However, in one of the fine letters seen by the Irish Examiner, there is no reference to an appeal, just that the fee “will be applied within 14 days from the date of this letter”.

Last month, the Government announced it would not be enforcing a pay-by-weight system. Instead, from September, flat-rate bin charges are no longer permitted.

It means waste collection companies are free to use several charging methods such as standing charges, pay-per-lift, pay-per-kilogramme, pay-by-weight bands and weight allowance charges.

Deputy Smith said the new regime means companies can implement their own policies.

“The many competitive bin companies that exist in Ireland and particularly in Dublin City are beginning to implement their own decisions on their own policies to maximise their profits and there seems to be no one that has control over them or control over their ability to increase charges, pay-by-weight and very seriously, to issue hefty fines to families for what they call contamination of bins, which can include anything from finding a teabag in a green bin to finding two biscuits and a few lollipops in a green bin,” she said.

Solidarity TD for Cork North Central, Mick Barry said, the trend of levying fines for contamination will spread to other cities.


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