Bin Charges

Jun
2016
16

Dáil Debates, Environment

There is no doubt that the so-called withdrawal of the recycling charge lauded by the new Minister for the Environment Simon Coveney has just given way to a spike in the overall charges which are going to have a serious impact on the economic circumstances of citizens.

Clare has been consistently raising the huge problems around the introduction of pay-by-weight, and the outrageous charges being levied by companies for several weeks. You can find copies of parliamentary questions submitted on this issue below. We have also been in correspondence with Panda on this, and our queries have been referred to the Consumer and Competition Protection Commission by the Minister for investigation. Joan Collins, raised this yesterday with the Taoiseach at Leaders’ Questions, and today  other parties followed suit. The Government is now under huge pressure to do something about this, and to revoke the Statutory Instrument that gives effect to the new charges.

We will be keeping the pressure on on this issue.

Question No s . 143 and 144

To the Minister for the Environment, Community and Local Government:

To ask the Minister for the Environment, Community and Local Government if he is aware that a company (details supplied) is demanding that customers pay upfront for collection of wheelie bins tagged with electronic tags, despite not having made available to customers or the public the fee structure pertaining to the collection of electronically tagged bins, and whether or not such a demand is legal.

To ask the Minister for the Environment, Community and Local Government if he is satisfied that a company (details supplied) gave sufficient advance notice to customers that bins tagged with paper tags would no longer be lifted after a certain date and that only bins whose electronic tags had been topped up to a minimum of 25 euro would be collected.
– Clare Daly.

For WRITTEN answer on Thursday, 21st April, 2016.

Ref No s : 7990/16 and 7991/16
Panda
REPLY

Minister for the Environment, Community and Local Government (Deputy Alan Kelly)

I propose to take Q uestions Nos 143 and 144 together.

The charges applied by waste management companies are a matter between those companies and their customers, subject to compliance with all applicable environmental and other relevant legislation , including contract and consumer legislation .
DAIL QUESTION

NO. 34
To ask the Minister for Jobs, Enterprise and Innovation if he is aware that a company (details supplied) is insisting that customers pay upfront for collection of wheelie bins tagged with electronic tags, despite not having made the fee structure pertaining to the collection of electronically tagged bins available to customers or the public; and his views on such practice..
– Clare Daly.

* For WRITTEN answer on Thursday, 28th April, 2016.
Ref No: 8700/16
R E P L Y

Minister for Jobs, Enterprise and Innovation (Mr Bruton)
The European Union (Consumer Information, Cancellation and Other Rights) Regulations 2013 (S.I. No. 484 of 2013) require traders to provide a range of information to consumers in a clear and comprehensible manner before the consumer is bound by the contract. That information includes the total price of the goods or services inclusive of taxes, or where the nature of the goods or services is such that the price cannot reasonably be calculated in advance, the manner in which the price is to be calculated. If the contract is an off-premises or distance contract as defined in the Regulations, the information which the trader must provide forms part of the contract and cannot be altered without the express agreement of the consumer and the trader.
Investigation of possible breaches of the Regulations is the function of the Competition and Consumer Protection Commission. I have accordingly referred the Deputy’s question to the Commission for consideration.
DAIL QUESTION

NO. 613
To ask the Minister for Jobs, Enterprise and Innovation if she is concerned that a company (details supplied) will now only accept payment of invoices for bin charges through an online billing system for etags, thereby putting persons without access to the internet at a major disadvantage, given the company’s discontinuation of paper tags; and if she will investigate the consumer protection implications of this..
– Clare Daly.

* For WRITTEN answer on Tuesday, 24th May, 2016.

Ref No: 11273/16
R E P L Y

Minister for Jobs, Enterprise and Innovation (Ms Mitchell O’Connor)
Matters to do with communication to customers of waste companies and with pricing, billing and access to account information come within the scope of the Customer Charter for Household Waste Collection. This Charter constitutes the Sixth Schedule to the Waste Management Collection (Permit) Regulations 2007 (S.I. No. 820 of 2007) as amended most recently by the Waste Management (Collection Permit) (Amendment) Regulations 2015 (S.I. No. 197 of 2015) and the Waste Management (Collection Permit) (Amendment) Regulations 2016 (S.I. No. 24 of 2016). As these Regulations were enacted by the then Minister for the Environment, Community and Local Government, now the Minister for Housing, Planning and Local Government, questions about their application to the practices of companies providing household waste services are a matter for that Minister.
DAIL QUESTION

NO. 663
To ask the Minister for Jobs, Enterprise and Innovation further to Parliamentary Question Number 613 of 24 May 2016, to clarify if the practice referred to falls within her remit, given the response of the Department of the Environment, Community and Local Government to Parliamentary Question Number 394 of 31 May 2016, namely, that this is a consumer protection issue, and to investigate the practice referred to and the consumer protection implications thereof..
– Clare Daly.

* For WRITTEN answer on Wednesday, 8th June, 2016.

Ref No: 14687/16
R E P L Y

Minister for Jobs, Enterprise and Innovation (Ms Mitchell O’Connor)
The previous questions referred to by the Deputy concerned a claim that a company will now only accept payment of invoices for bin charges through an online billing system for electronic tags thereby putting persons without access to the Internet at a disadvantage. The general consumer protection legislation for which my Department has responsibility does not contain provisions on the form to be taken by payment invoices. The need for such provisions has not arisen to date as it is in the interest of businesses to facilitate payment by customers by providing that payments can be made in a number of different ways. In the case of certain regulated sectors, such as energy and household waste collection, service providers are required to have customer charters intended to safeguard the interests of users of the services.

As stated in my reply to Parliamentary Question Number 613 of 24 May 2016, the Customer Charter for Household Waste Collection constitutes the Sixth Schedule to the Waste Management Collection (Permit) Regulations 2007 (S.I. No. 820 of 2007) enacted by the Minister for the Environment, Community and Local Government as amended most recently by the Waste Management (Collection Permit) (Amendment) Regulations 2015 (S.I. No. 197 of 2015) and the Waste Management (Collection Permit) (Amendment) Regulations 2016 (S.I. No. 24 of 2016). This Customer Charter requires service providers to provide ‘the highest standards in the provision of waste management services to their customers’ in respect of general customer service; communication with customers; pricing, charging mechanisms and access to account information; and complaint procedures and dispute resolution. Matters relating to the billing and payment practices of companies engaged in household waste collection would accordingly be most appropriately dealt in my view through the Customer Charter for the sector.
DAIL QUESTION

NO. 664
To ask the Minister for Jobs, Enterprise and Innovation further to Parliamentary Question Number 34 of 28 April 2016, if she will provide a likely date upon which the Competition and Consumer Protection Commission will provide an update on its investigation of this issue..
– Clare Daly.

* For WRITTEN answer on Wednesday, 8th June, 2016.

Ref No: 14688/16
R E P L Y

Minister for Jobs, Enterprise and Innovation (Ms Mitchell O’Connor)
The Competition and Consumer Protection Commission which is statutorily independent in the exercise of its enforcement function has advised me that the matter referred to in the Deputy’s question is under examination along with a number of other consumer issues which have arisen as a result of the introduction of a pay by weight charging structure for household waste. The Commission has further advised that it cannot comment on the matter or give a time frame for the completion of its examination.
Question No s . 240, 242 and 267 together

Chun an Aire Comhshaoil, Pobail agus Rialtais Áitiúil:
To the Minister for the Environment, Community and Local Government:

To ask the Minister for the Environment, Community and Local Government how it is that the polluter pays principle under which fees to collect household waste are to be charged under the Waste Management (Collection Permit) Amendment Regulations 2016 is upheld by the practice of waste companies charging flat per-week service charges to consumers under the new pay-by-weight system, a charge which must be paid regardless of whether or not a consumer has presented any waste for collection; if he will amend the Regulations in order that service charges that can be charged by waste companies are capped; and if he will make a statement on the matter.

To ask the Minister for the Environment, Community and Local Government if he will continue to pass on the Landfill Levy to customers on top of the flat service charges being introduced by waste companies under the Pay-by-Weight Scheme; and if he will make a statement on the matter.
– Clare Daly.

To ask the Minister for the Environment, Community and Local Government if a new charging regime by companies (details supplied) are in line with recent regulations agreed by his predecessor; if he will review the regulations, given the significantly higher cost of bin services these companies have charged under their new charging regime..
– Eoin Ó Broin.

For WRITTEN answer on Tuesday, 14th June, 2016.

Ref Nos: 15529/16, 155 46/16, 15937/16

REPLY

Minister for the Environment, Community and Local Government (Deputy Simon Coveney)

I propose to take Q uestions Nos. 240, 242 and 267 together.
Government waste policy is predicated on the waste hierarchy , as set out in the EU’s Waste Framework Directive. A number of specific measures have been, and will continue to be, introduced to reduce the amount of waste generated in the State and to increase the segregation of waste which cannot be prevented in line with Government policy. The introduction of pay-by-weight charges for the collection of household waste is one such measure.

The legislation requires that from 1 July 2016 , the collector will charge for each kilogramme of waste collected. The Government has set a minimum mandatory fee per kilogramme for the different types of household waste: 11c for black bin (residual waste) and 6c for brown bin (food/organic waste), while a zero cent minimum fee per kilogramme may be set for green bins (recyclate). The per kilogram minimum charge was designed to cover the minimum cost of treating the waste collected after it has been deposited by the collector at their depot or a waste transfer station to its final treatment , whether that be at a landfill, incinerator or other treatment method. This helps ensure that the polluter pays principle is applied in the pricing structure and that the collector has charged at least enough to cover the cost of treating the waste, thus helping to ensure it will be treated properly. A service fee may also be charged by the collector.

U nder pay-by-weight charging for household waste collection, there is an opportunity for everybody to have more control over their waste charges and to minimise their waste costs by preventing waste and segregating waste through using the food waste and recyclable waste bins properly. In an open market, it has been, and will continue to be, a matter for the collector to set charges at the level they consider to be competitive, in compliance with the requirements of the legislation. Excessive pricing by individual companies will offer the opportunity for rival operators to provide their services at a cheaper price.

Finally, t he landfill levy has proven to be a huge incentive to divert waste from landfill and to encourage the recycling and recovery of materials . The current rate of the landfi ll levy is €75 per tonne which encourages o perators to find alternative treatment options for waste, including household waste. The charge is not paid directly by householders and is not paid by the operator in cases where the waste is recycled or recovered ( e.g. incineration with energy recovery).

Question No. 241

Chun an Aire Comhshaoil, Pobail agus Rialtais Áitiúil:
To the Minister for the Environment, Community and Local Government:

To ask the Minister for the Environment, Community and Local Government how he will monitor the compliance of waste companies with the Metrology Act 1996, and with the technical specifications laid out in the Waste Management (Collection Permit) Amendment Regulations 2016; his plans to institute an inspection scheme; how consumers can have confidence that the reported weights of their waste are accurate; and the dispute resolution mechanisms that exist where customers believe they have been overcharged..
– Clare Daly.

For WRITTEN answer on Tuesday, 14th June, 2016.

Ref No: 15530/16

REPLY

Minister for the Environment, Community and Local Government (Deputy Simon Coveney)
The Waste Management (Collection Permit) Regulations 2007, as amended, require that the operator makes available to the householder the weight, fee charged and registration number of the vehicle for each collection of waste.

The responsibility for ensuring the accuracy of the weighing inst ruments for the purposes of pay-by- weight charging for waste collection rests with the N ational Standards Authority of Ireland’s (N SAI ’s) Legal Metrology inspectors. The NSAI has provided information on its role in this regard , which is available to download at :
https://www.nsai.ie/Pay-By-Weight-bin-charges-system.aspx