Waste company slammed for "outrageous" new customer terms

Fianna Fáil has called for regulation of the waste industry "as quickly as possible"

Waste company slammed for "outrageous" new customer terms

File photo. Image: Katy French and Conor Nolan at the launch of Panda's new Silver Service waste collection for Dun Laoghaire - Rathdown. Photo: Nic Mac Innes/Photocall Ireland

The Government is under pressure to provide regulation of the waste industry "as quickly as possible" after it emerged one of the country's largest waste companies is attempting to claim the right 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 fined up to €25 for failing to segregate waste properly.

The company offers green bins for dry recyclables, brown bins for composting and black bins for household waste and under the new contracts, customers can be fined anything from €10 to €25 for putting waste in the incorrect bin.

Completely excessive

Fianna Fáil TD for Dublin West, Jack Chambers said the proposed rules are outrageous.

"In the terms and conditions of the most recent contract that Panda have published they are giving themselves permission to enter people's homes and inspect bins," he said.

"This is completely excessive.

"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 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."

Deputy Chambers said the charging regime the company is attempting to introduce is "completely excessive and unnecessary" and warned that families could be left with large bills for making simple mistakes.

"To charge between €10 and €25 per item, per mistake and to do it overnight, shows why we need regulation, why we need intervention from government to set the rules and provide oversight to the waste industry."

"We all want to encourage recycling but to charge people in such and unfair and punitive way I think will be extremely difficult for families and it is important that Panda pause this process and that the government provides regulation as quickly as possible."

Effective monopoly

He said there is also a real issue in terms of competition - with Panda the sole waste operator in the Fingal area of Dublin.  

"When terms and conditions are set and the company knows that the customer has no other alternative or option that gives an absolute indication of why we need regulation and why issues like entry to people's property and excessive surcharges are being imposed by bin companies without any oversight," he said.

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.

Campaigners have warned that there will be a major public backlash if the government's new bin charges regime leads to excessive charges for consumers.

Panda Waste has been contacted for comment.