I propose to take Questions Nos. 600 and 601 together.
The polluter pays principle, which underpins national and EU policy in the area of waste management, seeks to encourage all of society to reduce, reuse and recycle waste to the maximum extent possible. To ensure that charging systems more fully embody the polluter pays principle, my Department asked service providers to move to a system of use based charging from the current year. Use based charging acts as an incentive for individuals and families to change their behaviour by effectively rewarding those who minimise their waste output through recycling. In support of this more proactive approach to the promotion of recycling, my Department operates a capital grants scheme which is targeted towards the provision of waste recycling-recovery infrastructure, the need for which is identified in local authority waste management plans, or is otherwise considered to support the attainment of the recycling and recovery targets specified in these plans. My Department also makes grant assistance available to local authorities to offset the operational costs of operating existing recycling facilities.
In accordance with section 52 of the Protection of the Environment Act 2003, the determination of waste management charges is a matter for the relevant local authority, where it acts as the service provider. Similarly, where a private operator provides the collection service, it is a matter for that operator to determine charges. However, in order to assist individuals and families with lower incomes, I have asked local authorities to engage with commercial waste collectors with a view to agreeing on a scheduling of payments, that is, a phased pay as you go system, rather than a periodic lump sum payment. I am also giving consideration to the overall regulation of the waste management sector including whether, and to what extent, there might be a need to identify public service obligations appropriate to service providers.