Labour motion on reform of waste management system passed in the Seanad

22 May 2024

Sherlock welcomes Minister Smith’s commitment to bringing forward proposals to bring in competition for the waste collection market.

Labour’s Senator Marie Sherlock has this evening welcomed the cross party support Labour’s senators received for their motion calling for municipalisation of waste collection services.

Senator Sherlock said:

“Labour believes within the current system of waste collection, there is a market failure, an environmental failure, it contains no incentive to invest in the public waste infrastructure that we so badly need.”

She highlighted that there is a very real risk of households being held to ransom if the State becomes overly reliant on a small number of very large operators. “The privatisation of waste services has led to fragmented and often inadequate service provision and Labour candidates hear this issue on the doorsteps every day. It’s abundantly clear that people want change.

“We understand that in Dublin not all households have waste collection with the latest estimates suggesting 92% of households are covered and we know there are pockets across the country that have no service at all. At the other extreme, questions have to be asked about the environmental impacts of multiple bin companies driving after each other with all the emissions and congestion that that entails.

“Ultimately if we want to see serious investment into waste collection in terms of underground bin collection, share collection points and a significant increase in the number of bring centres, then we have to see changes to the current lopsided system where private operators get to cream the profits from bin collection, while local authorities have to pay to clean up the mess. There is no incentive for local authorities to invest under the current system.

“Illegal dumping is a scourge across many communities and we believe you can’t divorce the measure to tackle that with the wider issue of waste management reform. In the first instance we believe it should be made possible for local authorities to tender for a single provider in their area. In short, we are calling for competition for the market as a stepping stone towards remuncipalisation of waste services.

“This evening Minister Smith signalled his intention to look at this. While the government has chosen not to oppose the Labour Seanad motion today,  this stance must be backed by concrete measures, or it will be of little value to communities nationwide.”

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