Our guide keeping your pay-by-weight bin charges down

The added domestic pressure of pay-by-weight bin charges arrives on the July 1st. Are you ready to account for every rounded up kilogram of waste you produce? Follow our guide to winkle back every cent possible, lightening your load and the landfill take without over-stuffing the composter.

On July 1, the minimum pay-by-weight bin charges as set out by the Department of the Environment and prompted by the EU legislation, were due to launch at 11c per kilogram of black bin rubbish, with brown bin (organic /food waste) at least 6c per kilogram. 

Whether you signed off with a provider last year or last week, tag collections and flat-fee arrangements, which were to be rubbished from that day, are back again.

Happily the 2c statutory charge per kilo of green (recycling) bin waste proposed by the Government was recently scrapped under duress from People Before Profit, the Green Party and Fianna Fáil. 

Waste collectors may still roll out a charge for dealing with green bins, however. But for now, let’s look at the realities. 

There’s the cheery suggestion by the Department that 87% of us (those in households of four or less), will pay the same for our waste removal or even save money under the propose new regime. 

The contentious and inevitable rise in annual service charges is uncapped by any state directive, with the consumer’s real price per kilogramme of black or brown bin waste shyly emerging across the country.

One of the first costings was from Barna Recycling in Leitrim, at 22c per black bin per kilo and 8c per brown bin kilo, 8c for recycling kilos, plus a moderate €80 annual service charge paid in €20 quarters.

I found charges of as much as 35c per kilo for general waste in certain price plans elsewhere in the country, which had 0c charges for recycling (AES/Bord na Mona).

Whatever the situation to come, and while awaiting regulation of some sort on pay by weight charges, householders can claw back on bills with discipline and creativity. Honestly evaluate your immediate relationship with those hefty plastic tombstones at the back door — does it currently stink?

Divide and conquer

Segregating waste correctly is the principle behind all this change in the first place, potentially raising Ireland’s domestic waste recycling rate to 50% or better by 2020.

Understand fully what each bin should hold and be in-the-moment when shopping and shedding — one leads to the other, after all. Ensure food waste hits the brown bin, naked of packaging.

There are a few surprises for the brown (organic) bin newbie. 

Meat (cooked and raw) is acceptable, but the contents of the vacuum cleaner are disqualified, as are animal droppings and chemically sprayed cuttings and weeds.

If the brown bin has just been introduced to your area find out more at brownbin.ie. Green bin lifts are for qualifying recyclable materials only.

Stop wasting food

Over €50 worth of produce we buy every month gets thrown out uneaten (stopfoodwaste.ie). When it bounces back as cooked food and meat that cannot be home composted or it overflows a small digester, that’s a significant brown bin burden.

Plan your meals by the day with greater care and use the brown colour coded wheelie (almost half the price of the former black stream). 

If you don’t segregate correctly, you may get a ‘contaminated’ tag from your service provider and an eventual fine from your local authority.

Slap some rubber gloves on errant teens if needs be. Wrap scraps in newspaper to reduce smells and flies, and empty your brown kitchen caddy regularly. The bin itself must be collected at least every two weeks.

Blacklist the Black

Consider what’s hitting the general waste wheelie and make this your lightest bin always. Mindlessly buying overly packaged groceries and small hits of goods in split portions will inflate your black bin take.

The current Irish domestic load contains about 30% of various petro-chemical stuff that is not recyclable or compostable. We can do better. 

Put the black wheelie at the end of the line of bins behind the house as a firm reminder of what’s right — a walk of shame, if you will.

Ensure you don’t dump paper in the black bin — it now goes to the brown bin where it can line the base to mop up liquids. 

Otherwise, keep all bins bone dry, with wheelie bin lids firmly secured to avoid weighty rain soaked rubbish.

Note: Non-compostable black bin bags are not allowed on the kerb unless you are awarded a local exemption.

Track your charges

The pay-by-weight wheelie bins carry a microchip to record each lift and to log transactions to your name and address.

Follow the record of the weight and charges for every collection (some provide this online already). Credit balances on your existing account for tags and flat fees could be applied to the new pay-by-weight system if your chosen firm does not use it already.

Demand proof that customer loyalty matters to your provider. Be proactive in late and look into the charges of other waste collection services in your area, carefully examining contract T&Cs, service charges and prices per kilo for brown, black and even green bin materials for that coming year.

Price plans are now appearing with a choice of a higher annual charge and lower cost per kilo or visa/versa — see what works for you.

Come heavy

Shift bulky items to your local recycling centre or bring bank by car and/or trailer. This can include a fee, but might save money overall. Rubble, larger garden waste, paint, DIY materials, electrical goods, paper glass and more can be shifted in one load. 

WEEE and battery carrying customers, are generally not charged this gate fee. To find your nearest, appropriate recycling centre/bring bank or civic amenity site through your GPS locator on your smart-phone go to the website of the Environmental Protection Agency, epa.ie.

Embrace your waste

Recycle, compost what you can, and look up interesting ways to put organic waste like newspaper to use in the garden as passive fertiliser in lazy beds and borders. 

Try this tip — cover flower beds with layers of newspaper and put the grass clippings directly on top, making sure not to touch the stems or exposed roots. 

This saves watering, weeding and breaks down to nourish the beds with less green slime in the compost bin.

General and recycling bin colours referred to in this feature may differ from bin colours provided by your waste collection company.


Lifestyle

Des O'Sullivan takes a look at Bill Wyman's Rolling Stones memorabiliaRolling Stones memorabilia going under the hammer

All ages can suffer from spots across their back but thankfully, there are many things we can do about them, says Jennifer RockThe Skin Nerd: back to basics to treat the pesky plague of ‘bacne’

Roz Crowley tests eight coffees ahead of Fairtrade FortnightEight of the best fairtrade coffees to try

Steel Panther give metal fans the chance to let their hair down and laugh at themselves, and the Cork audience is in party mood.Live review: Steel Panther at Cyprus Avenue

More From The Irish Examiner