Waste policy

Minister Gormley just released a 1232 page review of waste policy. The press release is short and vague, but it does announce an increase of the landfill levy to €75 per tonne in 2012. It’s €15/t now, so that’s a 400% increase. The average price at the landfill gate is about €140/t. This will go up to €200/t, a 43% increase. Curtis et al. show that the effect on the volume of waste is small.

The press release also announces an incineration levy of €20-38/t. I do not know the details of the contract between Dublin City Council and Coventa/Dong, so I do not know whether its Dublin taxpayers or C/D shareholders who will be paying the annual €12-24 mln.

The summary report has a number of recommendations:

  1. More waste separation at source (7 bins for you), and improved collection of recyclables from homes
  2. Nonlinear waste charges applied at the county level (i.e., you will pay if your neighbours have too much waste)
  3. Stringent targets for recycling (we won’t be soccer champions, but we’ll beat the world on this)
  4. A ban on inter-county waste trade (this complies with WTO rules)

And this will of course cut emissions, create jobs, and save money.

A more detailed assessment will follow shortly.

20 replies on “Waste policy”

First there was the ‘Seven Deadly Sins.’ Then ‘Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs’; ‘The Magnificient Seven’; ‘Seven Brides for Seven Brothers’. Enter: John Gormley, Producer and Director of ‘The Seven Bins’?

Does anyone know how much landfill costs in the Netherlands – where land is very scarce compared to Ireland? Someone told me it was much less. This isn’t a proposed stealth tax to lard inefficient local authority budgets is it?

@ Veronica,

excellent comment, I like it.

@ Barry,


@ Paul,

Yeah, that is where the debate is surely going to head sooner rather than later.

@ Richard,

Tanx for posting this. The idea being to tax people on what they produce. I can see a certain amount of logic to it. Though like everyone else, used to traditional ways, this green stuff is going to take us a while to get used to. I believe that government should do more to hold workshops and seminars for kids are various ages in schools. I mean, at national school level and then again when kids are closer to Leaving Cert age, when they are mature enough to take it in – young adults almost.

I am talking about high quality, intensive presentations to show the big picture to the younger generations in school before they disperse off the university etc and they attend very little other than the basic tuition at University. I hate sometimes to see ordinary primary and secondary school teaching staff trying to cobble together some sort of thing, to teach students in schools about sustainability. Something higher quality, like a road show(s) that could travel from school to school should be done.

I remember a couple of years ago, the boss at work told me I couldn’t dump dead batteries in the ordinary bin. His kid at school had told him that. Neither of us mature people had figured it out for ourselves.

It’s the same old story – – commission a report, spend a truckload of taxpayer’s money on it and in due course, Gormley will inevitably try and design a policy that will make the proposal of a incinerator in his constituency, unviable.

The point I am making is that we can shake our hat at trying to change the neuron pathway connections of mature people in society. The more we press home the point in certain areas of mature society, the more likely you are to experience serious ‘back lash’ and organised resistance. Fuel for the fire etc.

But there is no reason why the younger generation should be crimpled with the same flawed logic that got older generations by in their waste-ful and resource intensive live span.

“Does anyone know how much landfill costs in the Netherlands”

Isn’t the Netherlands made of land fill sites?

(sorry Richard)

I conducted a very rudimentary search on Google and came up with the following information on landfill costs in the Netherlands for 2002:


The figures for 2002 state that the cost for Combustible waste in landfill was 128 euros per tonne, for non-combustible it was 58 euros per tonne and for incineration it was 106 euros per tonne. Given those figures and that they relate to 2002 I don’t think it would be accurate to say that the costs are much less in the Netherlands than in Ireland. I’m open to correction if anyone has better information.

Landfill levy is €20 currently
Landfill gate fees excluding levy have dropped in the past 12 months and are closer to €75/tonne and there are rumours of the prices half this in recent months

A few points:

1. Implementing the recommendations would not require 7 bins. Multiple streams can be collected in the “green” bin, as at present.

2. 2007 figures for landfill gate fees are totally out of whack with current prices, which have continued to fall throughout 2009.

3. The landfill levy increases from €20 to €75 over 3 years, not in a single jump.

4. Curtis et al say the effect of increased levies on the presentation of household waste may be small, but they also say it “may well have a significant role to play in changing the economics of post-collection processing of waste” – in other words encouraging diversion from landfill, which is one of the main purposes of the review.

Has anyone noticed that the city is one great big litter bin at the moment? There is rubbish literally everywhere in Dublin behind every hoarding, every derelict site every back lane. They only street that gets cleaned is Grafton Street.

The dirt and filth of Dublin is unbelievable! Since they started charging for waste the city has been filthy. Some people, more and more as this recession bites simply refuse to pay for rubbish to be collected they just leave small bags of rubbish everywhere.

“Diversion of landfill” yes, straight to the streets, boreens, lakes, rivers, ditches. If this is what a ‘green” agenda means then God help us because those little furry animals that are never more than a few feet away are thriving presently.

“A ban on inter-county waste trade (this complies with WTO rules)”

Presume you mean inter-countRy waste?

How much have volumes of landfill waste reduced as a result in the decline of construction?
Ditto on the rise in the volumes during the post-Celtic Tiger construction era?

Similarly, for increases arising from population growth and/or growth in people living in apartments?

Does this study on waste state that the organised collection and disposal of waste (everywhere, including dead animals on farms) is as essential to public health as is proper disposal of other effluent?

I’m sorry? A 1,232 page report on waste. Someone is having a larf? Where are most copies of it likely to end up? You guessed it.

However, the points made above about society’s reactions once you ask them to start paying for something are valid.

Dublin has become an eyesore of waste these days. I was in the car park of a supermarket the other day and saw a guy taking black bin bags out of his car and dropping them next to the waste bin (could have been worse I suppose).

I think we need to find a better model for getting waste collection paid for. People see the current weekly purchase of a bin tag as a) coming straight out of their pockets and b) a chore (I frequently forget to pick one up and then can’t get the bin collected). I suppose we could embed the cost of waste collection in any new property tax? It’s starting to sound like rates in the UK.

None of this however solves the problem of getting people to create less waste. That’s some kind of paradigm mindset shift or a very small carrot with a very big stick is required.

I’m sure I recall something about big sticks to do with waste and litter when I was in Singapore. Something like a years salary as a fine (means tested punishment!) if you were caught dropping litter. No doubt though the very wealthy could get an accountant to prove they only earned 4 shillings and sixpence over the course of the last year.


According to waste benchmark report published by Forfas in Aug 09, In Holland there is a €30 fee and €89 Tax on landfill (Ireland €90 fee and €20 tax). It is to be noted that 3% of their BMW is disposed of v 64% in our case, the remainder is recycled (53%) or incinerated (44%)

“A ban on inter-county waste trade (this complies with WTO rules) ”

Should that be “inter-COUNTRY”? Otherwise I can’t see how the WTO would have any jurisdiction.

On the same point, why is waste management declared to be the sole practice where relative comaprative advantage is not a good thing to be exploited to the advantage of human kind?

Let me guess, ideology of logic?

The proposal is to process waste within the county from where it comes.

This is WTO compliant because (1) WTO has no authority over intranational trade and (2) WTO has no authority over waste. My attempt at funny clearly failed.

Processing waste within a county denies economies of scale, which are substantial in waste management. It also ensures that the PoolBeg incinerator will not operate at full capacity.

In my understanding of the contract, Dublin City will pay a guaranteed amount to the company that runs the incinerator. In return, the first 320,000 tonnes of waste will be burned for free. If Dublin City cannot source waste from other counties, then the Council will be paying Coventa/Dong to sit on their hands.

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