Below-cost collection: Irish recycling industry to stop the „race to the bottom“

Abfallcontainer (Foto: O. Kürth)

Dublin, Ireland — It is stated Irish Government policy that household waste collection will be organised under an improved regulatory regime. The Environment  Department has been working for some time on a new regulatory regime to provide for that and to introduce a number of very fundamental changes to how the collection regime operates. From next year, a number of measures will be introduced to specifically tackle these issues.

To incentivise the greater reduction of waste and to move towards the long-term goal of zero waste, paying by weight for collection will become a reality for all consumers. Waste collection companies will also be signing up to specifically mandated service levels as well as statutory customer charters while a ban on the below-cost selling of waste will be introduced. The failure to adhere to agreed service levels will automatically result in a permit review – something that has not been seen before. This will create a challenge for waste collectors.

Minister Alan Kelly argues: “ The current ‚Race to the Bottom‘ –  level of below-cost selling –  is directly contributing to a destabilising of the industrial relations situation in the waste sector – something that is benefitting neither customer, nor worker, nor the environment. I support the concept a statutory wage-setting mechanism for the industry to ensure stability, certainty and industrial peace. I know as recently as this week that Minister Nash’s Department of Jobs, Enterprise & Innovation has written to the Labour Court requesting examination of such a concept as part of the process around such agreements.

„However, if next year the level of compliance with the new reforms is not sufficient, then I am prepared to take steps next year to review the current regime and system and consider other market approaches that can deliver the necessary improvements for all household waste collection markets in Ireland. In that regard, the waste industry needs to be clear though: The new regulatory framework is the ‚last chance saloon‘ for the industry to demonstrate that they can work individually and collectively to improve performance, standards and levels of service and compliance records. I will give consideration to introducing a different market structure in the future if this does not occur.“

And he ended: „We have an industry that needs to be radically shaken up, modernised and professionalised. And it is my intention to do this and end this ‚race to the bottom‘.“

Source:  Department of the Environment, Community and Local Government, Ireland