Matters relating to the transfer of waste collection services by local authorities to private operators are in the first instance for the local authorities concerned.
My Department’s role is to provide a comprehensive legislative and waste policy framework through which the relevant regulatory bodies, such as local authorities and the Environmental Protection Agency, operate. In this regard, I published A Resource Opportunity - Waste Management Policy in Ireland in July 2012, setting out a range of measures which will significantly revise the current regulatory regime to ensure, inter alia, that waste collected is managed in accordance with the waste hierarchy, that mandated service levels are delivered and that Customer Charters are put in place by all waste collection providers. Customer Charters will be required to clearly set out information for customers including charging structures, procedures for dealing with arrears and arrangements for switching from one waste collector to another. Following the publication of the new waste policy, I wrote to the waste management industry in September and October, 2012 in relation to the development of such charters and I understand that a number of waste collection providers have already put in place a Customer Charter ahead of the development of the new regulatory regime. It is my intention that the improved regulatory regime will deliver both enhanced environmental performance and ensure a quality service for consumers.
Notwithstanding the above measures, the Competition Authority currently maintains an on-going oversight of household waste collection markets. The next formal review of the household waste collection market, including a report by the Competition Authority, will be carried out in 2016, as part of the proposed overall mid-term review of the implementation of the waste policy. In addition, the National Consumer Agency has engaged with the waste industry in relation to consumer issues such as the terms and conditions contained in contracts , the refund of credit balances and cancellation fees.