Government could intervene if companies increase bin charges - Taoiseach

Service charges set to more than double as pay-by-weight charges come into effect

Government could intervene if companies increase bin charges - Taoiseach

File photo: RollingNews.ie

The Taoiseach has promised the Government will take "appropriate action" to stop waste collection companies from raising fees for customers.

Enda Kenny was speaking as Sinn Féin unveiled a bid to overturn planned hikes in charges, due to take effect in two weeks.

Annual bin service fees will more than double next month for some customers in the Leinster area when the new "pay-by-weight" system is introduced. 

Minister for Housing Simon Coveney is set to meet representatives from the waste companies tomorrow, after some indicated plans to massively increase standing charges.

Mr Kenny told reporters in Liverpool that the new charging system was meant to encourage conservation, rather than increase the financial burden on customers.

His comments came after independent TD Joan Collins claimed that price fixing in the waste disposal industry is driving bin charge increases.

Speaking in the Dáil yesterday, Ms Collins accused waste collection companies of operating a “cartel”.

The Dublin South-Central TD said Greyhound is set to increase its fees from €59.95 to €169 per a year.

The company is expected to charge 35 cents per kilo of black bin waste and 23 cents per kilo of brown bin waste - more than triple the minimum mandatory prices set out in the pay-by-weight system announced last month.

Ms Collins told the Dáil that fees for Thorntons customers will also rise, from €50 to €104, with similar rates to Greyhound for black and grey bin waste.

“Under the polluter pays principle, the less waste a householder sends to landfill, the less he or she pays,” the TD said.

“What we are seeing, however, is that exactly the opposite is the case and people are incensed, anxious and angry.”

Ms Collins said public meetings against the fee increases are to be held in Drimnagh, Ballyfermot and Crumlin over the coming two weeks.

Speaking under Dáil privilege, she called for an investigation into the waste disposal industry and the introduction of an immediate cap on annual charges.

“Waste disposal is a cartel in which there is no competition.  Competition has meant increasing waste charges,” she said.

'Not in the spirit of recycling'

Mr Kenny said in response that any evidence of a cartel should be brought to the Competition and Consumer Protection Commission (CCPC).  

“Given the concern that people have expressed and because of the fact that numerous bin companies are operating in the greater Dublin area, this is being monitored carefully by the Minister for the Environment, Community and Local Government,” he said.

Mr Kenny also defended the new pay-by-weight charges as “a new way of thinking” about the handling of household waste.

“The spirit of the legislation is to allow for people to be able to think differently about how waste is sent out in the bins,” he said.

However, Ms Collins said that argument did not stand “in the context of multinational and profit-making companies”.

“There is an increase from €59.95 per annum to €169 without putting out a bin. That is not the spirit of recycling.”

Thorntons and Greyhound did not respond to requests for comment.

The CCPC told Newstalk.com that it was "not aware of evidence of a breach of competition legislation" in the sector. 

The regulator said it has received 36 "consumer queries" in relation to pay-by-weight charges since the beginning of May.

"We are examining a number of consumer issues in the waste sector which have arisen following the introduction of the mandatory pay-by-weight charging structure," it said.

"This examination is a complex undertaking as there are a number of operators in the sector and there are a wide variety of distinct charging structures and contractual arrangements."