Minister describes bin charge increases as ‘opportunistic’

Minister for the Environment Phil Hogan has accused waste firms of using landfill levy increases as a “smokescreen” to disproportionately raise household bin collection charges.

Mr Hogan has complained to the National Consumer Agency about misleading information issued by some waste collection companies to their customers about landfill levies.

A number of bin collectors raised their rates recently, blaming the increase in the landfill levy from €65 to €75 a tonne from July 1st last.

Mr Hogan said it was “galling” and “inexcusable” that companies would use a levy designed to divert waste from landfill to “disguise” general price increases. Some of the firms that raised their charges exported the waste they collected and therefore did not pay a levy for depositing waste at landfill sites, he said.

“It is inexcusable and reprehensible that a waste collector would try to use the increase in the landfill levy as a smokescreen to inflate their prices.”

Mr Hogan said he intended to work closely with the agency to ensure the industry provided more transparent information to consumers.

“I have brought the matter of the accuracy of charging information being provided by waste collectors to the attention of the National Consumer Agency, as this type of opportunistic behaviour is unacceptable.”

In his letter to the agency’s chief executive, Karen O’Leary, Mr Hogan said he was concerned that “certain operators may not be providing clear information in relation to charges” and that their price rises went beyond the “marginal cost” of the levy increase.

He commended the agency on “tackling” one company.

Greyhound Recycling last month announced increases of 50 cents a month for customers on a flat monthly charge, 50 cents for each black bin collection for customers who pay by the lift and two cents a kilo for customers who pay by weight only. In a letter to customers, it described the levy as “tax imposed by the Government of Ireland on the people of Ireland”.

However, following a complaint to the agency that the by-weight increase was 76 per cent more than the levy increase, Greyhound reduced the charge to an additional one cent a kilo.

Thornton, Panda and City Bin have also implemented price increases for some customers on foot of the levy increase.