In June 2017, in line with commitments set out in A Resource Opportunity - Waste Management Policy in Ireland, and in the interest of encouraging further waste prevention and greater recycling, the Government decided to phase out flat-rate fees for household waste collection. All waste collection permits were amended by the National Waste Collection Permit Office to require that no flat fees would be charged after 30 September 2018.
Household waste collectors are required to charge fees which respect the waste hierarchy and encourage customers to segregate their waste. The last two months of data from the Price Monitoring Group reported that no flat-rate fees are being offered across the 47 service offerings being monitored.
The Environmental Protection Agency, EPA, is charged with reporting data on waste management. A wide range of waste statistics are available on the EPA website, including national waste reports and data releases containing information on municipal waste, infrastructure, packaging, construction and demolition, and composting and anaerobic digestion of biodegradable waste generated in Ireland. The most recent data indicate that the quantity of biodegradable municipal waste diverted from landfill and sent for composting and anaerobic digestion increased by 19% between 2015 and 2016, from 194,000 tonnes to 231,000 tonnes. It is very important that timely and accurate data on waste are available so that policy decisions on waste can continue to be evidence based.
In this regard, a new national municipal waste characterisation study, which commenced in December 2016, will be completed shortly. The last study was carried out in 2008 and it is anticipated that changes in consumer behaviour, in products placed on the market and changes in waste policies and legislation will have impacted upon the characterisation of municipal waste since 2008.
My Department has also funded the provision of public information to encourage waste prevention and segregation through the regional waste management offices and the Environmental Protection Agency. These initiatives include a national standardised list of items that can go into the recycling bin, available at recyclinglistireland.ie; a master recycling programme, in partnership with environmental non-governmental organisations, NGOs, to roll out 650 workshops nationwide; Reuse Month, the annual nationwide campaign in October to promote reuse among householders and businesses; the Stop Food Waste programme, which provides comprehensive information about food that is wasted and how to prevent it to both householders and businesses; and information on how to use the organic bin appropriately, at www.brownbin.ie.
The abolition of flat-rate fees, together with increasing use of compost bins and continuing awareness campaigns funded by my Department, will assist Ireland achieve current and future EU waste targets.