Brown bins on the long finger

The first step towards a third bin per household was taken by the County Council this week (February 23 ) when it presented a new set of bye-laws on waste management for public perusal.

In line with the EU’s landfill directive, it is planned that all household waste in the county will have to be presented for collection in wheely bins and this will mean a third, brown bin for organic waste will have to be distributed to all citizens across the county.

The bye-laws will be available for public comment for the next six weeks before coming back to the Chamber for adoption in May.

However, according to an official at the council, the present economic climate will see the start date of this initiative put back at least until next year.

“We were hoping to get this started in Athlone and Mullingar for September but we need €0.5m and we don’t have it,” said the official.

“To get it started by then, we’d have to be ordering the bins now.”

Already, a 1,000 brown bin pilot project is on the go in Mullingar at the moment and is not the success it might have been hoped.

“Of that [number], 500 have never seen a footpath,” said the council executive.

“I don’t know what they’re used for. A 100 or 150 are used regularly in Mullingar and only 11 people use it every two weeks.”

It is believed within the Environment Department that the eventual pick-up of the policy will, like so many things, be commercially driven.

“What will push it is when the Department draft laws on commercial food producers, like hotels and restaurants,” he said.

This will make it viable for the waste management companies to invest in the facilities to process high volumes of organic waste and thus have somewhere for all domestic waste to go.

It was also revealed at the meeting this week that all the next generation of bins will be microchipped for absolute identification.

This would also facilitate the intriguing possibility of “pay by weight” waste removal at some time in the future.

“Pay by weight is the best and fairest but the cost of implementation may be more than its worth,” said the council official.

“But this is a national issue and we all have to do our bit.”

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