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Bin Tax- Some backround notes on Environmental, Taxation and EU issues

category dublin | bin tax / household tax / water tax | opinion/analysis author Friday October 10, 2003 18:11author by Fingal Anti Bin Tax Campaign Report this post to the editors

These are briefing notes on the bin tax and some related environmental, taxation and EU issues prepared by Joe Higgins T.D. The Fingal Anti Bin Tax Campaign invites activists to read this as you may find it of some use in your local anti bin tax group.

October 2003
The Bin Tax

Background Notes 0n:
The Environmental Issues;
Taxation Issues;
The EU;

By Joe HigginsTD

Government’s Pathetic Failure on Waste Reduction and Recycling

Paper waste:
Did you know that in 2001, out of 302,062 tons of paper disposed of from households, an incredible 279,833 tons (92.6%) went to landfill and only 22,229 tons (7.4%) went for recycling?
(Source; National Waste Database Report 2001 – Environmental Protection Agency.)

Did you know that, Repak notwithstanding, of 502,352 tons of paper disposed of by commercial outlets, 358,276 tons (71.3%) went to landfill with 144,076 tons(28.7) going for recycling?
(Same source)

This means that if paper recycling was made mandatory with facilities provided in all areas, at a stroke the amount of waste going to landfill from households and commercial outlets would be reduced by almost one third (32.5%).

Household Waste is waste produced within the curtailed of a building or self-contained part of a building used for the purposes of living accommodation.

Commercial Waste is waste from premises used wholly or mainly for the purposes of trade or business or for the purposes of sport, recreation, education or entertainment but does not include household, agricultural or industrial waste.

What the Environmental Protection Agency 2001 Survey shows is that we have a Government which gives lipservice to an environmentally sound waste management policy but is not serious about putting the infrastructure in place to make comprehensive recycling a reality.

Did you know that out of 77,827 tons of glass disposed of by households in 2001, 55,214 tons (70.9%) went to landfill while 22,614(29.1) went for recycling?
(Same source)

Did you know that out of 73,403 tons of glass disposed of in 2001 by the commercial sector, 53,078(72.3%) went to landfill with 20,325 tons (27.7%) went for recycling?
(Same source)

Irish Glass Bottle, the only glass recycling facility in the Republic was closed in June 2002. Now all glass for recycling has to go to Northern Ireland or abroad.
The Minister for the Environment and the Government ignored calls for a major initiative to keep and develop a national glass recycling facility by bringing together the IGB workers, the Local Authorities and Rehab Industries to work out a plan based on the basis of a publicly owned IGB.

Some other facts;

In 2001, of the total amount of plastic disposed of by households, 145,563 tons went from households to landfill ……. 99.4% of the total.

404,064 tons of organic waste went from households to landfill with only 19,846 (4.7%) recovered for composting.

Total Waste Produced Tons
Total of Non Agricultural Waste 17,384,194
(Industrial Construction, Commercial & Household)
Agricultural Waste 56,687,440

Total 74,071,634

Note; Most agricultural waste does not go into landfill but is recycled on the land as fertiliser etc.

Municipal Waste(Household , Commercial & Street cleaning) (Before recycling)
Household Waste 1,468,834
Commercial waste 1,156,732
Street cleaning 78,469
Total Municipal Waste 2,704,035

Waste Going to Landfill in 2001
Waste Accepted at Landfills: Tons

Household 1,254,859
Commercial 737,193
Construction 1,094,496
Industrial 4,480,754
Other 710,296

Total 8,277,598

Household Waste going to Landfill as a proportion of All Waste going to Landfill is 15%

As part of their propaganda campaign to have the bin tax implemented, the Minister for the Environment and others frequently attempt to make householders feel as if they are responsible for the bulk of waste production. As the figures above show, in fact, householders account for a small proportion of all waste produced and for 15% of waste going to landfill.

A favourite slogan of the Minister and of the pro bin tax lobby is ‘The Polluter Pays’ applying this to householders. This slogan should be rejected. All the evidence is that householders are waste receivers rather than polluters and would have far less materials to dispose of if commercial and retail outlets cut down on packaging and if the proper recycling infrastructure existed. Nevertheless there are significant measures which could be taken to reduce the amount of waste which householders are obliged to deal with.

How an effective waste reduction policy would work:

Reduction at Source; Outlawing unnecessary packaging would reduce a significant amount of packaging waste that households have to dispose of.
Is there any serious intent on the part of Government, when we find in supermarkets and shops widespread practices such as the use of polystyrene trays and plastic wrapping used to wrap fresh vegetables, fruit and even pastries? Or when each month, millions of cartons of Tetrapak milk or juice cartons going to landfill, as they cannot be recycled?

Investment in Recycling Infrastructure:
Sufficient investment must be made to provide a comprehensive recycling infrastructure in each area. Byelaws can then be implemented requiring that no recyclable materials go to landfill.

A comprehensive public education programme should be undertaken showing why each citizen, household and corporate or other organisation should comply with reduction at source, reuse and recycling policies.

The EU and Waste Policy in Ireland

The Government frequently uses the cover of the EU for justification of the bin tax. The EU came up with the slogan ‘The polluter pays’ and that slogan has been dealt with earlier. But it is very important to see exactly what the EU Directives are saying. It will be seen, in fact, that the Directives do not direct Governments on precisely how waste management should be paid for.

EU Directive 91/156/EEC of 18 March 1991 amending Directive 75/442/EEC on waste
Article 3
1. Member States shall take appropriate measures to encourage:
(a) firstly, the prevention or reduction of waste production and its harmfulness, in particular by:………………………..the technical development and marketing of products designed so as to make no contribution or to make the smallest possible contribution, by the nature of their manufacture, use of final disposal, to increasing the amount or harmfulness of waste and pollution hazards.
Article 15
In accordance with the ‘polluter pays’ principle, the cost of disposing of waste must be borne by;
- the holder who has waste handled by a waste collector …….and/or
the previous holders or the producer of the product from which the waste came
(My emphasis)

Article 14 relates to the minimisation of waste at source. Quite clearly the Government does not take this seriously.

Article 15 also outlines the possibility of charging those who put all the unnecessary packaging into the shops and supermarkets for the disposal of the waste. Naturally the Government takes the usual route of attempting to hit the ordinary householder with charges instead.

There is absolutely nothing stopping the Irish Government arguing in the EU that householders contribute fully to waste management costs through the central and indirect taxation, which they pay and which is then made available to the Local authorities for this purpose. When it is stated ‘We must pay for services’ the answer is quite simple. PAYE taxpayers and contributory pensioners have always paid for services such as water and waste management, including when the Ansbachermen and others were blatantly and illegally defrauding the taxation system.

The Bin Tax - Bad For the Environment

There is very clear evidence that rising bin taxes around the country, far from having a beneficial environmental impact, will have a very serious detrimental effect on the environment. A professionally produced survey carried out by Irish Marketing Surveys for six local authorities in the South East shows that alarming 37% of households burn their waste always or sometimes. This is highly dangerous for the environment as it means that dangerous toxic gases are going uncontrolled into the air. A senior official in one of the Councils, which commissioned the survey, said that rising bin taxes was partly responsible for the high level of burning. Unfortunately, there is also evidence that rising bin taxes will lead some people to indiscriminate dumping of waste.

The Fight Against The Bin Tax Is About Taxation Justice

Rising Bin Taxes and the reintroduction of water charges would mean a new Local Tax of up to €1,000 per household each year within a few years
It is important for campaigners to bring out the hidden agenda of Government. What they want is to have a parallel structure of local charges that would in reality be a new tier of local taxation parallel to the PAYE system. These would be imposed by the Local Authorities and would not be accountable to the Dail. The Minister of Finance and Government of the day would then be able to claim that these charges had nothing to do with them and wash their hands of them. We have seen the cynical operation of this trick already with long overdue reductions in PAYE being given in Budgets and then most or all of the value taken back by rises in local charges and stealth taxes.

The Bin Tax has already reached €400 in some local authorities. The OECD is pressing for the reintroduction of water charges, initially at a level of €200 per household. If this were done it would not be too hard to see these charges rising in a few short years to a level of €1,000 per household.

It is argued by the supporters of the Bin Tax that it is meaningless to speak about ‘double taxation’ because the level of PAYE taxation has gone down significantly over the past several years. What they conveniently ignore is that these tax reductions were not only long overdue from the 1980s but were also in compensation for many of the modest increases in wages that workers accepted, or had forced on them, through the national ‘partnership’ deals. They now want the reductions to be an excuse for new local taxes.
In fact since 1987 there has been a huge reduction in the proportion of the national wealth going to working people and a huge increase in the proportion going in profits, rents and dividends. Figures from the Central Statistics Office show that in 1987 wages and salaries of workers amounted to 59% of Gross Domestic Product while the profits and rents taken by the capitalists amounted to 41%. By2001 the proportion going to workers had fallen to 46% while profits and rents had risen to 54%. This can be readily understood by young workers attempting to purchase a house and by working people generally in their experience of price rises and rent increases across the board.

Tax Cuts for Big Business

The fight against the bin tax also highlights the unjust tax system, which hugely favours big business and the super rich such as billionaire and millionaire tax exiles.
In the Budget for 2001 the Government provided the corporate sector with tax cuts of €329 million and in 2002 a further cut of €305 million, not taking into account the cut in employers’ PRSI.
This means a provision in this year alone for the corporate sector paying €634 million less in taxation.
This would not only provide for massive investment in waste management but also allow for investment in necessary social and other services.

author by binnedpublication date Fri Oct 10, 2003 19:10author address author phone Report this post to the editors

relating specifically to your 91/156/EEC of 18 March 1991 quotation Id like to point out that directive has been modified to EUROPEAN PARLIAMENT AND COUNCIL DIRECTIVE 94/62/EC of 20 December 1994 on packaging and packaging waste. May have been modified more.

Its easy to pull fragments from directives to sway your point. These directives try to cover all aspects of the need for integrated action.This new directive contains the statement.

'Whereas consumers play a key role in the management of packaging and packaging waste and thus have to be adequately informed in order to adapt their behaviour and attitudes;'


How would it look if I only highlighted that section of the directive and ignored the rest.

read the up to date information before you make 'fact' filled statements that try to disseminate fear. I could go through the rest of your words and Im sure there will be other innacurrate points. But Im satisfied your statement cant be trusted. here click this link:!celexapi!prod!CELEXnumdoc&lg=EN&numdoc=31994L0062&model=guichett

also the infrastructure to meet the obligations set down by this directive are in this country primarily because of the lack of capital investment that is required through local taxation hasnt been there. Why?, because FF decided to abolish the rates in 77. And now the 'socialists' want to maintain the mis-managed system set in place by FF. funny thing that.

author by curiouspublication date Fri Oct 10, 2003 21:35author address author phone Report this post to the editors

There are a lot of facts and figures being thrown around here ...

For example, we get:
Total Waste Produced Tons
Total of Non Agricultural Waste 17,384,194
(Industrial Construction, Commercial & Household)
Agricultural Waste 56,687,440
Total 74,071,634

Note; Most agricultural waste does not go into landfill but is recycled on the land as fertiliser etc.

Municipal Waste(Household , Commercial & Street cleaning) (Before recycling)
Household Waste 1,468,834
Commercial waste 1,156,732
Street cleaning 78,469
Total Municipal Waste 2,704,035

The figures posted above give an approximate breakdown of waste by various "sectors", i.e.
agricultural, industrial, commercial household etc. along with some figures or estimates for recycling.

However, to get a more complete picture I suggest that one needs to also include the following comparative figures (or estimates if figures are not available).

These additional figures would be very interesting because they might help to clarify the extent to which the domestic household sector is being proportionally overburdened with waste charges in relation to its disposal costs (or alternatively the extent to which industry and other sectors are getting an easy ride).

It's only one aspect of the whole waste management issue but it's clearly a very contentious one in the context of the ongoing bin wars .....

Anyone able to come up with some figures or estimates on this ?

author by no bin tax herepublication date Sat Oct 11, 2003 12:12author address author phone Report this post to the editors

the bin tax CREATES more waste not less. It is inevitable that when bin charges are introduced the service will be privatised - Limerick County Council this weekend. The more waste that is produced the more profit private contractors make. There is no "incentive" for them to reduce the amount of waste.

Incidentally, ALL private contractors support the building of toxic waste incinerators, not to reduce the bin tax but to increase their profit margins.

author by binnedpublication date Sun Oct 12, 2003 18:08author address author phone Report this post to the editors

Bin tax creates more waste = nonsense.

Regarding figures: Even figures obtained from the EPA etc. are usually 1-2 years out of date.

when you say that 'ALL private contractors support the building of toxic waste incinerators' what private contractors are you talking about, are you talking about incinerators that deal with toxic waste or are you stating that municipal waste incinerators are toxic??

Im not a fan of municipal waste incinerators because they reduce the real responsibility for waste minimisation and represent another 'quick-fix' solution but I also know that under optimal working conditions they are way less toxic than most forms of pollution such as cars.

I wish someone from the anti-bin tax lobby would start making some sense and quit the crap.

author by Pablo Montana - --publication date Mon Oct 13, 2003 10:23author address author phone Report this post to the editors

Actually binned, there were some facts posted here a few weeks back on how in area's where the bins have been privatised, waste has increased. Could someone post those again.

author by binnedpublication date Mon Oct 13, 2003 13:18author address author phone Report this post to the editors

but as i see it household waste is created by the purchasing choices of the household.

If all companies want to do is maximise their profits would they not save millions if they didnt have to spend on packaging.

author by maurice de prattpublication date Tue Oct 14, 2003 21:45author address author phone Report this post to the editors

The purchasing choice of the household ... ?
What frigging choice does the Irish household have ?

I am resident in Germany and as I noted in a previous posting on another thread, in this country supermarkets and similar retail outlets are obliged to provide bins for customers to dispose of excess packaging at the point of purchase. A poster on the other thread informed us that he tried to do this in Ireland and was warned that it was not allowed and that he would be barred from the premises if he persisted.
So where is the consumer choice there for the Irish consumer ? The law as it stands allows the retailer to refuse to accept the return of unwanted packaging. So the consumer has NO CHOICE but to take the crap home (or throw it on the street perhaps if he/she has an underdeveloped sense of civic duty ......).

Similarly in Germany, the whole drinks trade is structured so that most drinks (whether beer or orange juice or mineral water) are sold in reusable packaging, typically a crate with bottles for which a deposit is paid. This can then be returned and credited against the next purchase. The point being that here I can CHOOSE whether I want my purchase to generate large amounts of household waste or not. I actually have some consumer choice in the matter.
The poor c**ts back in Ireland are largely starved of such choices.

Finally, industry does not make its profits by producing large amounts of packaging waste. It makes its profits by "externalising" the costs of disposing of the packaging waste, i.e. in plain English by pushing those costs onto the consumer or the community in general.

If the whole business was regulated more strictly (as for example in Germany) then companies might be forced to channel more resources into waste reduction and recycling. As it is they carry on merrily because they don't have to pick up the tab for the pollution they cause.

PS: What a lame excuse about EPA figures being a year or two out of date.
Let's have them anyway whether out of date or not:
Waste disposal COSTS per sector and
Waste disposal CHARGES levied per sector

[Feel free to factor in the massive amount of illegal dumping in Ireland .... I believe that economists call it "externalising the costs" ...]

Time to put up to shut up ..... but whatever you do please give us a break from uttering such inane neo-liberal pieties about "consumer choice" where it is largely non-existent .....

author by binnedpublication date Tue Oct 14, 2003 22:22author address author phone Report this post to the editors

the consumer choice was relfecting my households (4 people) attitude to waste and what we buy. Do you think the fact we manage to put out 1 bin bag every two or three weeks is done by magic?

Do you think I dont regard Irish industries attitude to waste cycles as poor in the extreme? I go further and state that the EU directives that everyone loves are not forceful enough and dont put enough pressure on companies or consumers to addrees the waste they produce/create by consumption. Take Repak : They are trying to increase the facilitiies for recycling but do little in the way of addressing industry practice. I.e. The companies can keep producing packaging as long as they pay waiver money to provide local recycling facilities. Not good enough I say.

youll also find that many consumers (maybe not you) make purchasing decisions and evaluate the percieved quality of products on the packaging. If people stopped buying overpackaged groceries for a week or two the companies would be left holding the products as such and would have to deal with the waste they have created. Maybe this would be a way consumers choice could put pressure on the companies to evaluate their packaging design.

author by binnedpublication date Tue Oct 14, 2003 22:27author address author phone Report this post to the editors

we are not poor c~~nts. If you dont even live here anymore how can you discuss whats happening on the ground.

author by maurice de prattpublication date Tue Oct 14, 2003 22:40author address author phone Report this post to the editors

I am often back and forth ..... and thanks to indymedia one can always get some up to date reports about what is happening on the street you dopey prick ...
The days of the coffin ship and the letter from America are long gone ... welcome to the 21st century .......

And for your information whenever I am "back" I do feel like a poor c**t when confronted with the appalling lack of consumer choice concerning household waste provided by retails outlets in Ireland ....

But obviously you are not interested in coming up with the requested facts and figures .... and will resort to any subterfuge to avoid doing so ....

So be it .... the coming EUROPEAN SUPERSTATE will sort out f**kers like you ......

author by binnedpublication date Tue Oct 14, 2003 23:10author address author phone Report this post to the editors

dorks, cunts and fuckers. your a real nice guy.

author by maurice de prattpublication date Tue Oct 14, 2003 23:18author address author phone Report this post to the editors

The language around here is rather robust at times ....... that I do not deny .....



This is no time for namby-pamby sugar-coated sophistries .......

PS: Are you going to come up with those figures ... or just meekly continue sorting your garbage and muttering excuses ?

author by binnedpublication date Tue Oct 14, 2003 23:43author address author phone Report this post to the editors

'meekly continue sorting your garbage and muttering excuses ? '

brilliant. first time ive laughed on this site in quite a while.

well those exact figures will be quite hard to come up with because of the massive variance between regions etc. I ususally use the websites such as and to find my figures. But while i try and figure that out why dont you ask yourself if you cant come up with the figures yourself what are you basing your assumptions on.

remember my pulling up on the original posts 'facts' was because it was a more obvious attempt at trying to spread lies. I meekly pointed out that the facts were out of date and so invalid.

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