Rubbish piling up as some try to avoid paying pickup fees

By Kaitlyn Mattson

Some Liberties residents wonder if a change in rubbish pick-up is leading to more garbage and discarded bags on local streets.

“I love the neighborhood,” said Barbara Hickey. “But I can’t stand that rubbish.”

In January 2012, the Dublin City Council privatized waste services. Now residents must pay private operators to pick up their garbage rather than the city handling it.

The streets “shouldn’t be dirty in the first place; it’s because of the people, not the corporation, that they are,” said Hickey.

When the city council handled rubbish there was much more flexibility; residents could either pay for the bags or were charged for a bin. And if residents left their trash out without a tag, the city would still pick it up.

Now, the private operators will not pick up bins or bags if their company – such as The City Bin Co. or Greyhound – is not identified on the bin or bag.

Michael Fitzgerald, manager of Liberty Market on Meath Street, said residents stick their rubbish on the street along with the trash from his market. The market contracts with Panda, a household and commercial waste services company. But like other private operators, “unless they have a tag on them, Panda won’t touch them,” Fitzgerald said.

People can be charged with a littering offense of up to €150 if trash is left on the street. But it can be hard for the government to determine who left the trash  and fine the guilty party.

Fitzgerald said while the city does come pick up the unmarked garbage bags, it takes much longer for it to be picked up now because city workers aren’t on the streets as much as they were a year ago.

Greyhound was originally the one company handling waste removal after the city council’s privatization decision. But in November, City Bin became another option for residents within the city.

According to City Bin CEO Gene Browne, the response has been good from customers in just the first few months of operating in the Liberties.

Dublin City Council’s waste management division conducts annual surveys on the amount of dumping done throughout the city; there will be one done later this year.

“There is a problem with illegal dumping,” said Sean Purcell, senior executive officer for the waste management division. But he noted that the last survey did not show an increase in the amount of illegal dumping.

About 1,900 fines for illegal dumping were issued in 2012. During that same time, about 200 public trash bins were removed throughout the city because, officials say, people were abusing the bins and using them for their own personal use.

The Liberty Market’s Fitzgerald said while there have always been residents who stick their rubbish on the streets, it has gotten worse because the city isn’t picking it up as often.

“There has been an old television lying in the street for weeks on end,” he Fitzgerald.

Kaitlyn Mattson was part of a team of students from Columbia College Chicago who traveled to Ireland to report and write about the Liberties.

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