Elderly people "confused and frightened" by new waste collection terms

The government is being urged to provide regulation for the waste industry “as quickly as possible”

Elderly people "confused and frightened" by new waste collection terms

File photo: Graham Hughes/Photocall Ireland!

Concerns have been raised that elderly people are being frightened by “draconian” new terms and conditions from waste collectors.

One of the biggest waste collection companies in Ireland came in for criticism during the week after it emerged new contracts will allow the company to enter customer’s property.

The new rules, included in the latest amended contracts from Panda Waste, have already been circulated to some of the company's 150,000 households.

The terms and conditions will also see customers in Dublin, Louth and Meath fined up to €25 for failing to segregate waste properly.

The company is one of a number of bin collectors with “contamination” clauses in their contracts – some of which rise as high as €30 per incident.

Confused and frightened

Justin Moran, spokesperson for Age Action said some older people are confused and frightened by the new terms.

“I certainly think that contracts like these and moves like these need to be part of that review that could be carried out by the government when they are looking at the whole wider issue of private waste management in this country,” he said.

“I also think that with Panda, they really need to ensure that customers are not scared; customers are not worried.

“You should not have to be scared about putting rubbish in your bin; you should not have to be worried about being fined when you put rubbish in your bin and when a company is reaching a point that it is treating its customers that way – then I think it needs to take a good hard look at itself.”

On Friday a spokesperson for Panda Waste told The Irish Times it would “not impose any penalties on any customer without engagement and several opportunities for the customer to mend their ways.”

Industry regulation

It comes after Fianna Fáil TD for Dublin west, Jack Chambers called on the government to provide regulation for the waste industry “as quickly as possible” to avert unfair rule changes.

He said the terms included in the updated Panda contract are “outrageous.”

"Panda as a bin company is giving themselves more power to enter a premises on a property than an Garda Síochána - and if that doesn't ring alarm bells about an industry setting its own rules nothing will," he said.

He warned that it is "fundamental" that the government sets the rules for the waste industry and "provides oversight to pricing in what is a billion Euro industry."

Pricing watchdog

The controversy comes after a deal was agreed between the government and Fianna Fáil which will see the introduction of a pricing 'watchdog' that will compile evidence on the operation of the waste industry.

The Competition Authority will also be asked to examine whether a full independent regulator will be required for the industry.

Panda Waste has been contacted for comment.