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A decade on, calls for council to take back control of bin collections

Nearly a decade after bin collection services were privatised in the city, a campaign is growing for Dublin City Council to take back control of the provision.

The service was privatised in 2012 with the decision being widely criticised by councillors at the time.

Independent councillor Cieran Perry says there have been several negative consequences of the transfer of the service.

“Illegal dumping has become a crisis in city and in many hot spots around the county,” he says.

“There is mass dumping in certain areas in the inner-city and it is clear that it is not working.”

“A recent council report found that we spend €1 million a year on dealing with illegal dumping, but in reality it’s a lot more,” he says.

Perry cites the overflowing of public bins and their subsequent removal by the council in an attempt to deter illegal dumping.

Since 2008, the council has removed nearly 2,000 public bins from city streets.

Perry also says that the irregularity of the collections and reportedly poor working conditions of the bin men are more reasons for why the service should be taken back into council control.

“On my road, for example, there are three different services that come at three different times during the day,” he says.

“In that aspect, it seems a bit mad to me.

“There are also some scandalous work conditions for some of the lads,” he says.

“There are some really poor pay rates, and there are fewer number of lads on the trucks.”

Recently, a Waste Collection Service Subcommittee was established to discuss and explore the possibility of the local authority retaking ownership of the service.

It consists of councillors, council officials and representatives from trade unions, FORSA and SIPTU.

Perry says that the process is still in the early stages.

“Currently, we are not sure what obstacles are in the way,” he says.

Perry says it is still too early to tell if a standalone legislation is required and legal advice is being sought.

“We are going to undertake research and see what happened in other European countries, when waste collection services were re-municipalised.

“We are going to find to out what works and what doesn’t work,” he says.

“In Spain, for example, rather than a household collection, people would bring their waste to an area on the road, or every couple of roads, where it would be collected from.

“But that’s just an example.

“We’re pushing for this research to be completed as soon as possible,” he says.

Perry and the councillors who are on the subcommittee say that the transfer should be part of the Dublin Development Plan 2022-2028.

However, the group says the council is hesitant to welcome the proposal.

“Management is against it,” says Perry.

“It would be more for them to manage and it is labour intensive, so they were enthusiastic to offload the service when they could.”

At a recent Climate Action, Environment and Energy SPC meeting, the council said that it was “not a matter for the development plan,” and instead said “priority will be assigned in accordance with the waste management hierarchy with a strong emphasis on waste prevention, reuse and recycling.”

Overall, Perry says there is growing public support for the idea and that “hardly anybody is happy with the situation.

“Public support becomes political support and we hope to get this over the line in the next couple of years.”

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