On 25 July 2012, the Minister for the Environment, Community and Local Government launched the Government’s new waste management policy, entitled ‘A Resource Opportunity’. The new policy document sets out a number of actions, including:
- Maintaining the existing side-by-side competition model within the household waste collection market, but introducing a new regulatory regime in order to keep costs down for the consumer. This action aims to provide the certainty required by the waste industry and will also support a diverse, competitive waste sector, protecting jobs. The next formal review of the household waste collection market, including a report by the competition authority, will be carried out in 2016
- A move away from landfill, to its virtual elimination and replacement through prevention, reuse, recycling and recovery.
- Placing responsibility on Householders to prove they use an authorised waste collection service or manage their waste in an environmentally acceptable manner.
- A brown bin roll-out diverting organic waste from landfill towards more productive uses as a resource opportunity.
- New service standards to ensure that consumers receive higher customer service standards from their operator. Charging structures will be more transparent and consumers will be able to compare costs and switch operators at ease.
- Establish a team of Waste Enforcement Officers for cases relating to serious criminal activity (e.g. diesel laundering).
- Reducing red tape for Industry to identify and reduce any unnecessary administrative burdens on the waste management industry.
- A Review of Producer Responsibility will be examined as part of the Review of Producer Responsibility to ensure industry and business meet their obligations as producers of waste.
- Significant reduction of Planning Regions from ten to three, allowing for greater efficiency in the delivery of planning while still recognizing geographical variations
The new policy acknowledges that the side-by-side competition model for household waste should continue, under a strengthened regulatory regime, and is best placed to deliver a thriving and competitive waste sector with the associated benefits for employment. It is proposed that new regulations will allow waste collection companies to continue to compete for business, but they will have to adhere to new standards of service, incentivise their customers to adopt more sustainable behaviours and be much more transparent about their charging structures.