Amid the growing political controversy, Housing Minister Simon Coveney last night said he will “not tolerate any abuse” by companies who seek to exploit the new system.
Speaking to the Irish Examiner, he said that he is to meet the companies next Wednesday to ensure no abuse is taking place and to get a proper perspective on the charges structure nationally.
“I would take a dim view if we see clear evidence of abuse. This was never about increasing bin charges. If we need to introduce regulations to ensure that doesn’t happen then we will do that,” he said.
“The whole point of the change of the system was to encourage recycling not to increase charges,” Mr Coveney added.
However, figures for Greenstar show that households in Cork City who put out a full 240 litre black bin and a full 240 litre compost bin for collection twice a month will pay up to €502 a year.
The figure includes a €234 annual service charge (€19.50 per month) and a charge of 18c per kg for residual waste and 14g per kilo for compost, where each of the two 240 litre bins contains 35kg of waste.
One Greenstar customer who contacted the Irish Examiner said her bill last year was €279. She could now find herself paying between 66% and 80% more with the introduction of the new charges.
The hikes are likely to be replicated by other waste collectors around the country, although of the nine main players yesterday, only three provided figures.
Greenstar provides a service to 70,000 households nationwide including Cork City, Dun Laoghaire Rathdown, Fingal, Sligo and the South East.
A spokesperson for the company said prices for customers around the country were likely to vary and would go online on the company’s website later today.
She said in areas like Dun Laoghaire Rathdown where customers had long been charged on a pay-by-weight basis, they had reduced the amount of residual waste by 40%. However she said the introduction of pay-by- weight would be a “massive, massive learning curve for householders”.
Amid mounting controversy about the new charges, Independent 4 Change TD Joan Collins said in the Dáil yesterday that a “cartel” is holding customers to ransom.
“Waste disposal is a cartel in which there is no competition. Competition has meant increasing waste charges,” she said under privilege.
In response, Taoiseach Enda Kenny told the Dáil that if bin companies are operating as a cartel it would be a “criminal offence” and a matter for investigation by the Competition and Consumer Protection Commission.
Ms Collins said Greyhound, which collects refuse from 120,000 households in Dublin City and South Dublin, currently has a service charge of €59.95, but this is set to increase to €169 per annum. “This charge must be paid before a bin is lifted,” she said.
The company will charge 35c per kg of black bin waste and 23c per kg of brown bin waste.
But Ms Collins’ comments were a sign of growing political agitation surrounding this issue.
Mr Coveney is to brief concerned Fine Gael TDs today after the matter was raised at the weekly meeting of the Fine Gael Parliamentary Party in Leinster House last night.
“TDs raised their constituents’ concerns about the new pay-by-weight system at the meeting. Simon was not there so he will brief members on Thursday, which is the soonest he can brief on where it is at,” party chairman Martin Heydon told the Irish Examiner.
The bin charge issue is also top of the agenda for next week’s parliamentary meeting.