In the Dáil today I had a topical issue debate with Minister Phil Hogan on the need for a waste regulator and strong legislation to deal with companies like Greyhound and the practises they have been engaged in since waste collection was privatised in Dublin last January. Local Councillors also need powers to create by-laws to regulate what these companies are doing in different areas.
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WASTE INDUSTRY REGULATOR NEEDED TO TACKLE RECYCLING CHARGES – HUMPHREYS
There have been radical changes in the Irish waste industry over the last decade. Last January Dublin City Council privatised waste collection in the city which was widely seen to be a total disaster.
Greyhound is the company that received the contract in Dublin and they have been engaged in many practises that need to be regulated.
Just last week they began distributing letters to customers informing them that they would be charged €1.50 for each recycling bag, ending the practise of free pickups.
The Minister may not know but many houses in the city do not have a green bin as they do not have the space. Instead they put their recycling waste out in green bags. Greyhound, a company making massive profits in Ireland that refuses to publish their accounts is now charging €9 for a roll of 6 bags.
At a time when Ireland’s recycling rates are one of the best in Europe and our success in reducing our reliance on landfill it is appalling that Greyhound would introduce a charge in the city to collect recyclable waste.
This company has further brought the industry in to disrepute following the dramatic price increases they brought in last summer.
In May 4,000 tonnes of waste was found illegally stored in Kildare, In June a further 2,000 tonnes of illegal stored waste was discovered and just last month 1,000 bales containing close to 1,000 tonnes each of illegally stored waste was found in stored on a farm in North Dublin. I know the EPA is investigating.
Once can be attributed to oversight, twice could be considered a mistake, but three times this year illegally stored waste has been found and that is a pattern.
It is clear that we need a waste regulator, in the same way we have one for energy and communications.
The waste industry is nearly all privatised and we have multiple operators in many areas across Ireland.
While the Minister rightly abandoned the idea of tendering for waste contracts in each area, we do need a regulator who would control how the industry operates.
This could be done with a National regulator to set overall guidelines and Local Authorities would be the enforcing body. We have the chance to do this when we radically reform local government. Cllrs are well placed to monitor and report on the problems in their areas.
The free for all needs to be controlled. We need legislation and regulation.
Citizens need an official body to complain to who can take action. Waste companies operating here should have to publish their accounts and profits.
We need to ensure the waste stream is properly regulated and that recycling is encouraged.
The status quo is not good enough. The market must be regulated and controlled.
There are many responsible waste management companies who are customer friendly and abide by good practise. They charge only on what people actually put out instead of making people pre-pay, they encourage recycling and work for a better industry.
Unfortunately they are being undermined by the cowboy operators who exploit the lack of regulation.
Companies that do not supply their customers with the amount of waste collected, even when they charge by weight.
We need to put law in place and allow Cllrs to create by-laws, call in waste management companies and hold them to account.
A national regulator would also have to be able to set fines and make legally enforceable recommendations.
Copyright Kevin Humphreys 2013