I propose to take Questions Nos. 32, 36 to 38, inclusive, 40, 42 and 45 together.
I welcome the publication of the report by the Competition and Consumer Protection Commission (CCPC) on the operation of the household waste market in Ireland, which was published on 27 September 2018.
With respect to organic waste, household & commercial waste management compliance has been a National Waste Enforcement Priority for 2017 and 2018. During this period, the focus of this priority for the Waste Enforcement Regional Lead Authorities (WERLAs) has been the roll out of the household food waste bin. From their inception in 2016, the WERLAs have coordinated local authority actions by way of compliance assistance and enforcement to support the effective roll out of the household food waste bin in the required agglomerations in accordance with the legislation, and this work is on-going. The provision of a brown bin collection service, where it is technically and environmentally practical to do so, continues to be monitored by my Department, together with the regulatory authorities and industry representatives.
With respect to the household collection model and structure, the CCPC, in its report, acknowledged the work of the Price Monitoring Group (PMG), which I established in July 2017, to monitor prices for consumers offered by the waste sector as flat fees were being phased out. It has confirmed that consumers have seen price stability across the sector over the last 12 months with no evidence of price gouging.
The findings of this report also support the approach that I have taken to introduce an incentivised pricing model, rather than a blanket pay-by-kilogramme system as previously proposed. The report shows that household waste collection costs are on average between 63 and 77 cents per day.
The CCPC does not call for a one-size-fits-all type of regulatory approach. In fact, it advises that, based on data collection and consultation, different competition models can be introduced for different geographic areas. The CCPC’s findings also state that the current regulatory system needs to be developed to address market structure, customer needs, and environmental targets.
The nature of the market is complex, as both the CCPC and the PMG have identified. Therefore, the findings of this CCPC report must be studied with care and diligence to ensure that consumer wellbeing is protected and that our environmental goals are met. This will require extensive work to be done in relation to data gathering and analysis before any decisions are made in relation to changes to the market structures. This may be a role for a national regulatory authority, as suggested in the CCPC report. The hybrid model suggested could also help to extend the coverage of door-to-door collections nationwide, while ensuring better value for money for the householder and providing certainty for investment by the waste sector.
This report, combined with the on-going work of the PMG, and the finalisation of the European Circular Economy waste legislation framework, will inform the development of a future waste management policy, including our environmental goals, regulatory and market structures, and policy instruments and tools.