Greyhound refuse collection company who took over from Dublin City Council when it pulled out of refuse collection in recent months has declared War on its new rival City Bin in last nights Thursday Evening Herald.

City Bin have entered the market with aggressive pricing offering the first 5000 customers an intro offer of just €99 for all 3 bins, and then after it intends to charge €180 P.A again for all 3 bins regardless of which ones are used. Greyhound are furious with the pricing structure and the impact it will have on its 60,000 customer base and the very definite reality of loss of jobs. Not wanting to get embroiled in the business or politics of it all, this posting instead will deal  with the implications of offering a Flat rate for all bins being collected. Regardless of where you live in Ireland if you have a 3 Bin collection service the Brown or Bio Waste Food bin is usually charged at about 50% of the Black or General Waste bin. The Brown Bin should have been kept specifically for Food Waste collection but further confusion surrounds it as in Meath it is used to collect Dry Recyclables.

So with a pricing structure like this the household is encouraged to use the Brown Bio Bin more than the Black bin to save on costs, especially in the current recessionary climate. However talking with David Naughton an Environmental Manager with Panda waste service recently at a Cré compost members meeting in Naas, the amount of contaminants that they receive in the Brown bin has led them to consider installing cameras on the rear of their refuse trucks, to photograph each Brown Bins contents being emptied into the truck to monitor its contents, and it can be matched to the Bins owner through the electronic tag embedded in the bin. They want to introduce a 3 strikes and your fined system, and also they will refuse to collect the contaminated bin so it will be back to the Council to decide how to deal with the household in question as ultimately the Council is responsible for all waste in its own area. This will be at  a huge cost to Panda especially when all the refuse collectors are really struggling with costs in fuel etc, but in fairness Panda are committed to continuing with food waste collection, but want a high grade feed stock. Uncontaminated certified, composted food waste has a unique nutrient value in high demand especially by Tillage farmers. Dr Gerry Bird an eminent Irish Agronomist has spoken at many Cré meetings of the benefits of food waste derived compost to the soil, reducing compaction, aerating, improved water retention, and by providing natural compounding Nitrates it reduces significantly the use of Petro Chemical derived Nitrates.   

Now lets go back to the Flat rate system and the logic behind this is that those households that want to and simply would not be able to not recycle properly will then do so, and those that do not give a damn will just simply use the Black bin for everything. The result is a much reduced quantity of Brown bin waste collected and the quantity that is should be of the highest standard, as is from households who are diligent about their recycling. This practice will prove detrimental to the future of the Brown bin for the short term, but in the long term as the Land Fill charges continue to rise, and rise they will, since all bins will have the same collection rates charged to them there will be no way for households to limit their charges. They will simply be told this is the price for this year take it or leave it, and you know that is when households will start to leave to try and find a cheaper alternative.

At this point the refuse collectors being sought by the unhappy households may well be asked for a printout from their previous collectors, showing all the lifts made by their previous company and whether the Brown bin was ever used by them at all. While it was not a crime to not use it with an operator that offered the Flat rate system it could well prevent any move to an operator who does insist on strict guidelines in using the Brown bin.

At Thorntons waste food facility at Kilmainham Wood in Louth its manager Tom McDonnell again at the Cré meeting spoke of the reduction of contamination to their food waste by Glass which  previously proved a serious enough problem as compost contaminated by glass cant be used in Agriculture. He felt that the recession has turned peoples drinking habits more towards cans of alcohol than bottles of wine their main problem, and with the budget putting another €1 tax on wine this will certainly help ensure this problem will not return in the near future.

With the department of the Environment, Community and Local Government about to publish its new policy on waste it  ring fences Food Waste from incineration and finally recognises it as a Natural Resource promising that every house in Ireland above a population count as yet not set, will have a Brown Bin and the onus will be on the household to show its using it or else prove a means of home composting. 

So as wonderful as a flat rate system sounds for the collection of all bins, it does not encourage households to segregate their waste so even the Green Bin sponsoed in the main by the packaging industry will suffer as the Black bin becomes the bin of choice for those that don’t have any regard for recycling or just too lazy to bother. And those that need incentives to segregate their waste, well the flat rate does not offer any so they will have to look at the more established firms and if they study what is presently on offer by those companies then they will actually see that if a household does recycle correctly, it will reduce significantly its presentation of the Costly Black bin.

Households with young families are unfortunately penalised financially by having to use the Black bin for Nappies as are dog and cat owners for their animals waste disposal, so the flat rate will be a big hit for them. The babies will grow up ending the need for the nappies and the eventual introduction of the Compostable animal pooh bag will remove this waste from the Black bin to the Brown bin as it is fully compostable.

So while the refuse companies fight it out over pricing households need to think of the implications down the road to not using the Brown bin both as a financial saving and contributing to the nutrition of Ireland’s soil the foundation of our successful animal and plant exports worldwide.The EU in its bid to reduce food waste production in Europe by 50% before 2014, has asked its member states to come up with ideas to be able to achieve this, and cites education of households as the most important contributor to a successful outcome.