Byline: TOM PRENDEVILLE Friends Of The Earth campaigner
ANTI-bin charge protests are growing and more than 50,000 households in Dublin are now without a collection service.
Fifteen protestors have already been jailed, many more are due before the High Court and there is a Garda investigation under way surrounding injuries sustained by one protestor.
On the streets the uncollected refuse continues to build up, fuelling health and public safety fears.
But while all our energies are focused on the bin charge, we ignore the fact that all that waste has to go somewhere.
Most household waste is currently dumped in landfill sites, a method that is costing an average of EUR200 per tonne in the Dublin region.
Bin charges vary around the country. Barna Waste, a private waste collector in Galway, collects from 22,000 households and charges EUR350 per year. That gives the firm a gross income of EUR7.7million. A tidy sum for rubbish.
The firm then exports the used plastics to China and India, the newspapers to England and the milk cartons go to Scotland.
Dublin City Council charges EUR154 for the large black bin and EUR90 for the smaller version, including the cost of collection and disposal. But, as the cost of disposal, government-backed incineration and landfilling increase, the bin charge is going to keep rising.
This means that the householder is paying for Ireland's landfill crisis.
The solution is simple. Stop sending waste to landfills or incinerators - those disposal methods are expensive and, yes, wasteful.
If our aim is to keep bin charges small then separating waste at home can help.
Separated waste is not waste anymore, it is the raw material for recycling companies.
Waste is created only when we mix everything together. Once it's mixed, there is no option but to landfill or incinerate.
Bin charges could then be administered by weight using a system called PAYT (pay as you throw) which works by only charging for the contents of the unseparated black bin.
With the introduction of this system, it is in every householder's interest to separate everything, as we are only charged for what cannot be made available for recycling.
Every householder will manage what goes into the bin and receive a bill, just like we do a telephone or an electricity bill. The key to this system is that it is possible to achieve a zero charge and even receive credits for the raw materials made available for …