Several wheelie bins along a street

Bin charge changes are on the way

Are you aware of how they’ll impact you?

There’s been a lot of talk in the media over the summer about bin charges - with the Government confirming at the end of June that it had approved “a more flexible framework for waste collection charges”.

Why are these changes being brought in?

Basically, the amount of waste being sent to landfill has increased in the last two years, and in 2016 emergency powers had to be used to make additional landfill capacity available - so these changes aim to encourage us all to reduce our waste.

What do the bin charge changes mean for me?

Minister Denis Naughten has confirmed that there will not be a ‘per-kilogramme’ charging system introduced, but that an “incentivised pricing structure for household waste collection” is important in terms of reducing our dependence on landfill.

So, from Autumn, there will be a range of charging options available - these will aim to encourage all of us to reduce and separate our waste, but we’ll still be able choose the service that suits us best.

One of the biggest changes that customers will notice is that if you have a flat rate contract, with no pay-by-use element, your plan will be phased out.

Instead of a flat rate plan, you’ll need to choose a new plan, which could include elements like per-lift, per-kilogramme, weight-bands, and weight allowance charges.

Another big change is that all waste collectors have to start rolling-out food/organic “brown” bins to any area with a population over 500, to help people reduce the waste going into their black bins.

How do I know if I’m affected by the bin charge changes?

Your waste collection company will contact you to let you know if your plan is being phased out.

However, if you’re not sure about what plan you’re on, or if it suits you, you should get in touch with your provider to see if there’s a better option for your usage.

And, if you have an online account management option, or you have some previous bills, there will be information about the weight of your bins, number of collections etc., which can help you to see trends and will allow you to better manage your usage.

What way should I separate my waste?

There are normally three different bins, which are colour-coded to show the type of waste that can go into them. For example, the green bin is for recyclable items, the brown bin is used for garden waste and other compostable waste (like food), and the black bin is for anything else.

What goes into my black/grey bin?

Your black bin is for any non-compostable, non-recyclable waste - i.e. anything that can’t go into the green or brown bin. This would include tin foil, crisp packets, plastic food wrappers etc. You cannot put glass in this bin.

What goes into my brown bin?

The brown bin could be a new one for a lot of people when it is rolled out wider across the country. This bin is for compostables, so you can put the likes of garden waste (i.e. grass cuttings and plant clippings), cooked or raw food, tea bags, and paper towels in here. You should also put your pizza boxes in this bin, rather than in the green bin. You cannot put any food packaging, glass, or plastic bags into this bin.

What goes into my green bin?

The green bin is for paper, newspapers, and clean/dry cardboard. You can put the likes of aluminium cans, plastic bottles, milk cartons etc. into this bin - everything should be clean and dry before it’s placed in recycling. You can’t put glass, black bags or pizza boxes into these bins. For a definitive list, check out Recycling List Ireland.

Apart from separating my waste, is there anything else I can do to cut down?

There are lots of things you can do to help cut down on the waste you produce.

A key one would be to monitor the food you buy and keep track of anything you throw out without using. Then, change your food shopping habits to take this into account. You’ll not only reduce your household waste, but you’ll save money by buying less in the first instance, too.

On top of this, you could get on board with the ‘Zero Waste movement’, which has 5 key principles: Refuse what you don’t need, Reduce what you do need as much as possible, Reuse items, Recycle as much as possible, and Rot all your compostable waste.

There’s a Facebook group for the Irish movement, as well of loads of websites with tips on how you can cut back on the amount of waste your household produces.

Some food shops and markets - for example the Dublin Food Co-op - have even introduced a package-free area, where you can bring your own containers, and you pay by weight for what you need.

How will I know I’m being charged fairly for my waste collection?

In July, Minister Naughten announced there will be a ‘Pricing Watchdog Monitoring Unit’ set up, who will tackle anything like price-gouging or cartels in the industry.

The watchdog will be made up of officials from the Competition and Consumer Protection Commission, the Department of the Environment, and outside consultants.

Are there any allowances to help me with bin charges?

When the Minister announced the changes to the waste charges regime, he confirmed that there will be an annual support of €75 for anyone with lifelong medical incontinence.