Louth's Declan Breathnach seeks fairness in waste collection charges

Donard McCabe

Reporter:

Donard McCabe

Louth's Declan Breathnach seeks fairness in waste collection charges

Declan Breathnach TD wants fair prices set for waste collection

Louth Fianna Fail TD, Declan Breathnach, shares his thoughts in some depth with us here, on waste disposal in Louth and the proposed new charging regime.

“I joined Louth Council in 1991 where myself and fellow councillors set up Environment 21 Committee to look at all issues relating to waste and waste management,

“ Subsequent to that we set up the Tidy Towns Together movement and during the intervening time a Waste Management Plan was drawn up.

“The new plan is the the Eastern-Midlands Region Waste Management Plan 2015-2021 which has been adopted.

“This provides a framework for the prevention and management of waste in a sustainable manner in Louth and the other local authority areas.

“The three key targets of the Eastern-Midlands Region Waste Management Plan are:

1. Reduce Household Waste
          1% Reduction Per Annum in the Quantity of Household Waste Generated Over The Period of the Plan.

2. Recycle More
          Increase the Reuse and Recycling Rate of Municipal Waste to 50% by 2020.

3. Less to Landfill
         Reduce to 0% the direct disposal of unprocessed residual Municipal waste to Landfill from 2016 onwards

"Historically, due to the inability of the Local Authority elected members to take responsibility for how we deal with our waste, particularly landfill and incineraton, the authority to deal with such matters was taken away from the Councillors by the Minister and given to local authority management rather than councillors.

"The issue of polluter pays principle has always been the cornerstone of the waste management plan and the inevitable pay by weight regime is slowly but surely starting to bite.  

"Fianna Fail are of the view that the pay by weight system should not be introduced particularly in areas where there is little or no competition until a regulator is put in place to monitor the regimes and setting a fair price per kilo across the board.

"It is my personal view that it should be possible to establish a reasonable cost for disposal of waste that is allowing for a maximum percentage profit and the regulator should be capable of ensuring that unscrupulous profiteering by the waste management companies is not allowed over the interests of the householder.

"Ireland as a whole has a serious situation looming on the horizon in relation landfill diversion targets. Missing these would mean potentially huge fines imposed from the EU.

"Give our recent economic recovery and the consequential increase in waste tonnages, a number of important steps must be taken in tandem in order for Ireland to keep up our recycling and diversion rates.

"Increased recycling could divert as much as 35% of waste away from landfill.

"Some of the steps include the minimisation of packaging waste at point of manufacturing of any product.  Offering more loose food products that are packaging free.  

"Encouraging retailers to take back unwanted packaging.  Take for example a new mobile phone - the amount of packaging for such a small produce is ridiculous.

"We must encourage consumers to think before they purchase to reduce food waste in their home - and only to purchase what is going to be consumed.  

"The pay by weight will encourage this and help force consumers who do nothing in waste prevention to change their habits.

"We need to change habits of people over a wide range of our society.

"This will help us achieve our diversion targets and thus prevent huge EU fines, but all the above must happen together achieve our desired outcome.

"Householders need not be afraid of pay by weight if they use the systems as intend and focus on their own purchasing habits.  

"Consumers with large gardens can engage in home composting etc to reduce their dependence on collections( and their costs) even further.

"I am extremely concerned that any gain currently in our economy to those who are in work could very quickly be off-set by the opportunity to hike charges by waste management companies who want to profit on the back of that hard earned gain.

"I am extremely concerned also at the growing fly tipping problem not just across our county but across the country.  

"Getting the balance of costs for waste disposal while ensuring that the consumer is not being ripped off can be achieved if we know the average cost of collection and disposal.  

"While this will vary between rural and urban areas based on the number of lifts and distance travelled surely it is not rocket science to protect the interests of the consumer with equal priority for our environment by keeping a close eye (and more) on unscrupulous waste collection services.

"The consumer needs also to be cognisant of those offering to dispose of larger goods and should check their waste disposal licence as many of these services are not licensed and the material ends up tipped into a ditch.

"Companies operating difficult collection places are charging more but I personally would like to see costs averaged out across the country and a fair price per kilo set."