Household waste company Greyhound is considering scrapping the collection of waste bags in Dublin for health and safety reasons unless the city council drastically reduces the number of streets where bag collections are still allowed.
Recently, a collection worker’s hand was pierced by a used syringe discarded in a bag, while a child in Ballymun also came into contact with syringes.
Under EU legislation introduced in July, the collection of bags was to be banned. However, following lobbying from local representatives, in the region of 900 streets were given a derogation from the legislation by Dublin City Council, a decision that Greyhound says poses risks for its collection staff and the public.
Greyhound’s managing director John Brosnan said: “Bin bags have been a source of risk to our crews, with syringes, broken glass, and other sharp instruments found discarded in bags.
“We have a duty of care to our employees and must reassess, as a matter of urgency, the dangers to which they are being exposed. Local children are also being exposed to risk.
“There is also an ongoing problem with counterfeit bags. In recent weeks, gardaí seized €350,000 worth of counterfeit bags in a raid on a warehouse, confirming that organised criminals are involved in their production.
“The worst litter black spots in Dublin are in bag areas, which encourage illegal dumping.”
Mr Brosnan said that, for some time now, the company had been urging people to switch to bins, which were more convenient, cleaner, and presented less risk to its collection crews.
“We don’t understand why some local representatives are neglecting workers and public safety,” he said.
While there is a small number of very narrow streets which might have difficulty accommodating bins, more than 90% can make the transition, Mr Brosnan added.
Asked if that meant that Greyhound was about to end bag collection, a spokesman said: “There may come a point when that will have to happen if another incidence like this occurs again. The derogation applies to 900 streets. We believe that figure should be around 100 streets and that the rest should be subject to bin collection.
“We accept that there are a small number of streets that cannot accommodate bins but this is an important safety issue. We are asking Dublin City Council to encourage the use of bins wherever possible and we will do our best to facilitate that. We are also looking at assisted collections to provide, for instance, to elderly people living alone.”
Last month, waste collector and driver Gavin Geraghty, 39, settled a case for damages against Dublin City Council after he suffered a hypodermic needle-stick injury to his hand.
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