SP Press conference on waste disposal, 11th May 2002

Socialist Party calls for end to bin tax

By Róisín Ingle in the Irish Times, Sat. 11th May 2002 Opposition to bin charges is a serious election issue that is underestimated by the main parties, the Socialist Party says.

At a press conference in Dublin yesterday, Dublin West TD Mr Joe Higgins called for the abolition of refuse tax and the privatisation of some services. The charges were causing "huge levels of anger" among the low paid and pensioners in communities, he said.

"What is fuelling the anger is that the ordinary worker sees that they are not the ones responsible for the waste crisis . . . commercial interests have not been put under any pressure to reduce waste at source," he said.

According to Mr Higgins, Cllr Clare Daly, the party's candidate in Dublin North, was on the verge of being elected because of her opposition to the charges.

"The bin tax is a much bigger issue in Fingal, Co Dublin, than is understood and is one of the issues propelling Cllr Clare Daly towards a Dáil seat and creating a major upset in Dublin North," he said.

Outlining the party's policy on waste management, Cllr Daly said it was the "sharp end" of complaints she was hearing on the doorsteps of that constituency. The party has encouraged people in the four local authority areas in Dublin not to pay the charges. People also expressed opposition to the current waste strategy of dumps and incinerators, she added.

"The problems stem from years of inaction by successive governments and the lack of political will to deal with viable alternatives to waste management," she said. Rather than concentrating investment on waste disposal, such as incinerators, the policy should be to reduce waste at source and introduce major reusing and recycling projects.

She said incineration merely transformed the waste into another more toxic form.

Cllr Daly pointed to figures from the 1998 National Waste Database Report which showed householders were responsible for just 1.5 per cent of the 80 million tonnes of waste produced that year, compared with the 95.3 per cent, or 76.4 million tonnes produced by major agricultural, industrial and construction sources.

"Householders are not polluters or waste producers, we are waste receivers . . . we do not ask for all the packaging that accompanies our purchases," she said.

"By and large it is out of our control."

In a brief demonstration, Mr Higgins used recent supermarket purchases to illustrate the amount of waste produced from a number of household products. These included toilet rolls and chocolate bars.

Among the measures called for by the party to transform the waste management policy was emergency Exchequer funding to provide facilities and treatment of all household waste.

The party also supports a ban on unnecessary packaging. In addition, it says, there should be mandatory jail sentences for anyone found guilty of illegal dumping. It also calls for a separate treatment for hazardous waste with full documentation and record of origin.

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