Monthly Archives: December 2007

Bad news on the flat waste charge

Two Green Party motions against the flat waste charge were voted down by Fingal County Councillors today (by majorities of 14 to 8 and 10 to 8).  The Manager had indicated that he intended to disregard the Councillors in any event, but the effective votes of support for the flat charge now means he is no longer under pressure to abandon the proposal.  The motions defeated are below.

Additionally, I made notes in relation to overspending and inefficiency in the waste element of the budget, and I attach them also below.

Motion 1. That the budget be amended by amending the first and second paragraphs of page 35 to read

" It is proposed to introduce a brown bin collection in most of the county and an amount of €200,000 has been provided for transfer to capital towards the funding of the capital costs of this expansion.  In addition, during 2008, it is proposed that households will be provided with a more frequent "green bin" collection accepting plastic bottles.

"The provision of the full range of recycling facilities, including more frequent green bin, brown bin, recycling centres, bottle banks and the environmental awareness service, means that the cost of this service has risen substantially.  In order to provide for these enhanced recycling facilities, there will be an increase in the cost of the bin tag on grey bins."

Vote 14 to 10

Motion 2. “That all domestic waste charges in Fingal for the black bin be levied per lift of a  waste bin or on volume or weight of waste disposed of, and not levied on a flat charge  or standing charge basis.”

Vote 10 to 8

Reduction of waste management costs

The objections in terms of fairness, environmental effectiveness and on the basis of the polluter pays principle are obvious and have been expressed to us by our constituents. These notes address the costs which are to be met by this new flat charge. 

It is clear that we need to raise more money in the waste area.  It is very doubtful that we need to raise as much as currently estimated.  The Manager has indicated that he intends to raise €14m a year this year and €22m a year in subsequent years from the flat waste charge.  The plan to raise €22m a year long-term is excessive, as it does not take account of the following:

Major saving 1. Oxigen contract 

Oxigen’s current contract is costing us about €400/t.  This is about twice what it should be.  The total sum required should be reduced to take account of this.

Major Saving 2. 3-weekly green bin
There is no need for a fortnightly green bin collection as proposed.  Every 3 weeks would be adequate.  Up to now we have offered extra bins for those who find their 4-weekly green bin is full and therefore would like to have two bins.  There has been almost no take up on this.  The total sum required should be reduced to take account of collection every 3 weeks.

Major Saving 3. Fortnightly grey bin
There is no need for a weekly grey bin collection.  The Manager says that the average frequency of presentation is once every 3 weeks. Therefore the weekly collection should be reduced to fortnightly immediately.  The total sum required should be reduced to take account of this.

(All of the above were discussed at CPG but not taken account of.  The Environment SPC has never discussed this, which I would have thought was its role.)

Major Saving 4 More efficient brown bin system
Organic waste/brown bin collection requires more attention – what we are planning is less than optimal in all respects.

I was at part of the Waste Conference in Croke Park recently for a presentation by Florian Amlinger of Austria.  It was very interesting and we should be learning from other places’ experiences more.

Their approach (not universal across Austria, but best practice):

1. home composting – best authorities have c. 55% home composting
We shouldn’t be collecting organic waste in rural areas or ribbon development zones; we should be encouraging them to compost, supplying bins etc.

2. best composting system uses small containers for kitchen waste, collected weekly.  Small and light containers –compostable bags (25¢ each) or lidded buckets, lifted by hand  to empty into small vehicle.  The slide he showed was of a husband and wife collection team, in which the husband drives the vehicle which has an open trailer or trailer-like section to the back into which his wife empties the bins.

3. bulky garden waste can either
a)    be dropped off, or
b)    put out to one of 2 to 4 collections a year, which work by sending the shredder around and shredding on the spot.

The cost of waste collection system for houses with the organic system above, dry recyclable collection and residual waste collection is approx €110-130 per household per year.

Austria has reduced the quantity of biodegradable waste in the residual collection by 73% in a few years.

The presentation is  here. 

Possible future saving:  Increased contributions from Repak to recycling costs
The Minister for the Environment has indicated that he intends to seek increased cost recovery from Repak for the costs of dealing with packaging waste recycling.  At the moment they fund about 5% of the Oxigen costs (note that includes newspaper which is not packaging).

Brief interruption to water supply

There will be a short disruption to the water supply in the areas listed below on Thursday morning 6th December, between  10 am
and 11 am.
St. Fintans
Howth Road (between Sutton cross and turn for Claremont Road) The disruption is to facilitate leakage testing on the water main in the area and most houses will only be affected for between 15 minutes and half an hour.

A public notice will be displayed in businesses in the area as well as on our website and on Aertel page 624.