July 1st Pay by Weight no excuses!

Philip Nugent Principal Officer Department of the Environment Community and Local Government.

Philip Nugent

Last Monday January 12th Brown Bin Rescue met with Philip Nugent Principal Officer Waste Policy and Resource Efficiency at the Department of the Environment and Local Government (DELG), at the Customs House Dublin.

Philip granted the meeting which I had called for to once and for all answer questions I had on Pay by Weight, the biggest change ever in respect of household waste collection’s to be implemented on July 1st 2015, arising from mixed messages circulating from refuse collectors in first week of January.

I was invited to AMCS’s facility in Limerick last November along with many of the refuse industry’s key players, to hear Philip deliver Minister Alan Kelly’s plan for radical changes to household waste collection and see a demonstration of Pay by Weight on one of AMCS’s trucks. Minister kelly who succeeded Phil Hogan described the waste industry antics as ‘A Race to the Bottom‘ and vowed to rectify it, as was not sustainable. Philip announced in Limerick that the Pay by Weight system for collection of household waste would be introduced on July 1st 2015, with no exceptions for either Wheelie Bin or Mixed Bag Waste presentations of waste.

picture of mixed bagged domestic waste

Mixed bag waste

A very shocked audience of refuse collectors who although knew of the departments intention to move towards Pay by Weight, were taken aback with the apparent short lead in time to its implementation. Pay by Weight will basically see annual contracts with refuse collectors ‘Scrapped’ so waste will be paid for after it has been collected by its Weight and not per Unit or Bin Load as before. Philip dismissed refuse collectors arguments of customers signing up even on that day for an Annual Contract’s, reminding them that the industry had been informed of this impending change two years earlier.

So assuming that these changes were sacrosanct I have been informing my customers through my website www.brownbinrescue.ie , Facebook and indeed Twitter of the impending changes, as the Brown bin was finally coming out as favourite on price per Kilo lift.

Mail drop from greenstar refuse waste company

6 Months Free

However in the first week of January I had a mail drop through my door in Dublin 15 from Greenstar offering me 6 months of refuse collection Free! and that they would beat any competitor rate after after that.

My mother in Dublin 7 had a mail drop from City Bin suggesting that her waste contract was probably up for renewal and that she should consider their offer from €15 per month.

City Bin mail drop asking if your contract was up.

Contract up?

Neither refuse collector had mentioned Pay by Weight on their mail drops, with City Bin actually returning my call of complaint to inform me that the department had pushed the implementation date back to July 16th.

Customs House Meeting.

So all this confusion over the departments intentions was causing me concern, as up to now I have been actively advising households as to what was coming down the tracks and was concerned that the goalposts had changed for some reason. I asked Philip to meet with me to once again reaffirm the departments position re Pay by Weight, and he did. He was aware of certain refuse collectors were still not taking the introduction seriously, apparently hoping the legislation would not get through the Dáil in January as the Minister intended. Philip was adamant that it would go through as planned. The following points were put to Philip and Owen Deegan his Department official from myself (Denis lawlor) and Martin Hayes marketing manager with Greensax.

Q:- Is Pay by Weight still planned for July 1st 2015?

A:- Yes, there is no change to the date of implementation, and any refuse collector who continues to collect waste after July 1st without implementing Pay by Weight will be in breach of their operators license.

Q:- Will refuse collectors have to actually deliver a Brown bin to their customers and not offer an Opt In or Out clause, as with some refuse companies and an option on City Bin’s sign up?

A:- Every household currently using Black and Green wheelie bins must take a Brown bin, as it is illegal to put cooked food into a Black bin. All bins are electronically chipped so useage or non usage can and will be monitored by County Council officials, and in cases of continued non compliance FPN’s (Fixed Penalty Notices) will be issued.

Q:- Will the Brown bin charge incentivise households to use it?

A:- Yes it is estimated that the average weight Brown bin for a typical family will cost in the order of €116 p/a. The Black bin will continue to be charged in line with landfill rates, but by kilo.

Q:- Who will set the price per kilo for all 3 bins?

A:- The DECLG will set the minimum rate per kilo for all 3 bins, the refuse collectors will set their standing charge.

Q:- What of Pay to Use compactor units, like the one Clean Ireland are challenging in Shannon?

A:- Again any unit or refuse company that does not comply with Pay by Weight from July 1st will be in breach of their operating license. There is currently no planning quirements for Pay to Use units but that is under active review. In addition where the regional waste collection plan promotes kerbside collection then a Pay to Use unit will not be granted permission to be sited in such an area.

Q:- Ireland the only country in the EU permitted to do so, currently exports circa 340,000 tonnes and rising of minimally treated mixed waste to countries such as Sweden and Germany, with food waste in that mix for EfW or Energy Recovery purposes. The EPA does not permit this practice on the island of Ireland in the Indaver Carrenstown EfW plant so will this be the same for Pool Beg, and will exports of this waste be stopped?

A:- Yes  DCU has been commissioned to carry out a study “The Export of Waste – Exporting a Resource Opportunity” – This study is due to be finalised in February.

Q:- Does the DECLG fully support the establishment of a AD ( Anaerobic Digestion ) industry in Ireland.

A:- The Department is committed to the measures contained within the Action Plan for Jobs 2014
and is working towards maximising the value which can be extracted from waste in Ireland.

Q:- Will there be a national advertising campaign to advise people of the impending changes?

A:- Yes there has been a delay in finalising that campaign but it will be promoted shortly on national networks.

In conclusion:-

This change to the way waste is to be collected from households will thankfully put an end to the unsustainable practices employed by many refuse collectors in their attempts to woo customers at the expense of the environment. As the state will now set the cost per kilo of waste in particular food waste there will be clarity in the charging system and household segregation of waste will be financially rewarded. For households where affordability of refuse charges are not an issue, the addition of new council inspectors to follow up on non compliance could lead to court attendances. This is a great step forward in the realisation of the value of food waste both for the conditioning of our soil, and 2015 is the year of the soil and for establishing an AD industry in this country. AD as in UK and Germany is not weather dependant so functions 24 /7 365 days of the year to keep food waste local, significantly reduce our carbon footprint by reducing transportation of food waste, brings jobs and capital infrastructure to local areas in ireland and much needed constant cash injections back to the communities from the Electricity it feeds into the national grid. Brown bin rescue feels very proud to have been part of this journey to see the brown bin finally being rolled out across the country, and to be legislated for to ensure it remains protected and valued.

Edited by Denis Lawlor, Brown Bin Rescue.