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Proposed Change to Waste Collection Meets Resistance


In June 2011 the Department of the Environment, Community and Local Government published a discussion document ‘Altering the Structure of Household Waste Collection Markets’. The main policy change involves ‘franchise bidding’ from waste companies for the right to collect waste in a particular Local Authority area. The current system allows waste companies to offer services wherever they see fit. In some areas this gives residents the option of a number of providers and has in general brought more competition and keener pricing.

In general the Government appears to want to address the following;

  • It is considered that charges are high.
  • Source reduction is not incentivised.
  • It is considered wasteful for more than one service provider to provide a service in a particular area.
  • It is envisaged that the franchisee would be required to provide a service for the entire area. In some counties household waste collection is available to < 40% of households. (Donegal for example)
  • Give power back to Local Authorities in relation to waste collection
  • Rebalance the current situation where City and County Managers have the final say in relation to waste issues and give more power back to Councillors.

The local waste sector is very much against the new proposal as its likely that only the largest or multinationals will have the wherewithal to meet tender criteria. They point to the fact that waste disposal costs have reduced over the last number of years and that increased competition has resulted in more innovation and investment in infrastructure. Many also believe that the proposed new policy may be an attempt to allow waste to be diverted to the proposed new incinerator in Poolbeg where Dublin City Council must meet a contractual commitment to supply at least 320,000 t per annum.

Having reviewed the proposed new policy, and many of the responses to it, Environet has concluded that while the current system has many benefits and efficiencies it does not address the problem that 15% of households nationwide are not provided with a waste collection service. The most logical approach would be to issue Waste Collection Permits to waste contractors for particular Local Authority areas that stipulate, for example, that all households must be offered a service and at the same price. Or that all waste collections must be by weight to incentivise reduction at source. Consumers could still choose based on price and quality of service and most national waste policy issues would be addressed.

However if the hidden agenda is to give control of what happens to waste back to Local Authorities (for reasons that can’t be specified) then franchising is the way to go!

The consultation period closed in September 2011 and a decision is expected soon.