At tonight’s first full council meeting of the new term, People Before Profit Councillor Tina MacVeigh will table a motion calling for waste management services to be brought back under the management and control of the local authority.
The city of Dublin is in deep crisis due to the ongoing and relentless commodification and privatisation of key public services including waste management. A service that was primarily serviced by local government has now been totally taken over by private operators competing for customers, preserving competition and profit making over environmental and social concerns.
However, in truth the council continues to provide waste management services, in Q1 of 2019 alone the local authority spent €297,464 removing illegally dumped household waste responding to 2,849 reports of illegal dumping received in the period. The Council spends a lot of money on the installation of cameras to monitor illegal dumping and the deployment of Garda to support council workers checking up on whether residents have contracts with bin companies, our street bins of which there are too few are overflowing with waste and we cannot get dog waste bins installed at our green spaces.
Speaking ahead of tonight’s meeting Cllr. MacVeigh said: “While waste management companies accrue vast profits and register their business overseas for tax avoidance purposes, they appear to be unaccountable for their practices – there are issues around the collection of waste on designated days and times, we hear reports all the time that companies are pushing their services on residents without giving them all of the information they need about bin storage and putting residents who should be signing up for bags at risk as they have to store bins on the street, and they are engaged in a race to the bottom on wages and working conditions for their workers and finally, we are suggesting increasing the throughput on the Poolbeg incinerator by 15%, an incinerator that successive councils have voted down for 20 years and at a time when the quality of air in our city has reached dangerous levels. So essentially while we spend public money fixing the problems caused by the privatisation of the service, profits made from service provision are pocketed by the private sector.”
Cllr. MacVeigh continued: “Waste management and recycling is a public need essential for public health and arguably exempt from competition law. The conversation we need to have about waste is an urgent one and is not just about the return of these services under the control of the local authority so that it can be delivered as a service in the interest of public health, we also need to consider the environment and climate change – food waste, the production of packaging waste needs to be addressed at source.
“My proposal is that on foot of this motion passing a subgroup of the Climate and Environment SPC be established that will liaise directly with the Department of the Environment to prepare a report on how waste management could be returned for control and management under the local authority. This is an issue that plagues our city and that is constantly coming up at the area committees. It is a source of huge frustration for the residents of this city that councillors can do little about it and there is huge public support for these services to be returned to the local authority and this there is a trend for remunicipalisation throughout Europe. It is absolutely without question that the move to begin the privatisation of these services in 2001 with the introduction of the charges would only lead to the situation we now find ourselves in. We have a public health responsibility to the people who live work and recreate in our city as well as a responsibility to the environment and our climate crisis to agree to the remunicipalisation of this critical service.”