Finding ways to save money on bin charges is not a waste of time

Customers may experience upward pressure on prices as operators get ready to implement the new service Fiona Reddan.

It's almost impossible to avoid paying them, but for many of us, finding the most competitive deal on bin charges is a challenge. If you're looking for the cheapest deal on gas or electricity or your mobile phone, comparison sites such as bonkers.ie do the work for you. However, they typically don't cover bin charges, which means that it's up to you to seek out the best deals. But, while you may get a flyer in through your door offering a deal with a particular provider, it's very difficult to compare these offers given the opacity of many service providers' websites.

Panda doesn't appear to provide any prices on its page; on Greyhound you have to give your address and detailed information to get a quote; while operators such as Mr Binman ask you to sign up online - without disclosing its pricing information.

Not only that, but companies sometimes offer a different pricing structure depending on where you live, others charge on a per lift and per kg basis, and others still offer a flat annual or management charge. And if you want to add a brown bin to the mix you may be stuck paying a mixture of lift charges and an annual service fee.

Pricing in the waste management industry has been an issue for some time, and in 2013 the Competition Authority found that waste collection is not working well for households.

Now change is on the way, with new rules to be introduced by Minister for the Environment Alan Kelly set to come into force on July 1st next year. These rules will ban flat annual charges, and will require waste management operators to charge on a pay-by-weight basis.

This, it is expected, will encourage homeowners to recycle more, but in the meantime, customers may experience some upward pressure on prices as operators get ready to implement the new service which requires them to have a pay-by-weight facility in place.

But until the new pricing comes in, how can you minimise your waste bills?


Determine how much waste you produce

If you want to save on bin charges over the coming year, you'll need to know how much waste your household typically produces, so that you can then seek out a plan depending on your usage waste.

A report from the Environmental Protection Agency in 2011 put the typical waste per household per year at 928kg. However, a better way of determining this is getting out your recent bin collection charges. If your operator already works on a pay-by-weight basis, it will be easy to tot up your annual waste total.

If you're a light user, you may find that you're paying too much of an annual charge and would be better off looking for a pay-per-weight service.

If, on the other hand, you're a heavy user, signing up for a service that charges extra if you pass the weight limits could be an expensive decision.


Navigating bin charges

Getting the right plan for your needs can pay dividends. For example, if you are a small household and a light user of waste, you could save considerably by switching to Citybin's lift plan. If you can keep your waste to under 30kg a month, have no need of a brown bin and only require one lift a month, it should costyou about €168 a year. However, if you need two bin lifts a month, the cost will soar to €276, and if you exceed the €30kg monthly limit, you'll face additional charges.

If you worry about exceeding the excess, Greyhound has a flat rate charge of €199 a year for a fortnightly collection of your black, brown and green bins and it promises no weight excess.

It's also important to bear in mind when shopping around that depending on where you live, you may face different charges even if it's with the same company.

Another point to bear in mind when signing up for a contract that has an annual fee is that you may be tied to this contract for a year or you may be charged a fee for breaking it. For example, Greenstar says an "early cancellation fee" will apply if you cancel before the end of the term,


Skip hire

If you've been doing a bit of a clear-out this summer - or still intend doing one before the autumn comes - you might be in the market for a skip.

Depending on where you live, you might want to tread carefully with Greenstar, as its prices vary depending on where you live. For example, if you live in Balbriggan, north Dublin, a mini skip will cost you €135.01 or €269.99 for a standard-sized one. Move across town to Deansgrange in south Dublin, however, and that mini skip will set you back just €120, rising to €255 for a standard-sized version. But if you live in west Dublin, you'll get an even better deal. Residents of Fonthill in Dublin 22 will pay just €115 for a mini skip or €249 for a standard one - that's as much as 15 per cent cheaper than someone ordering a skip from Balbriggan.

Another option is the baby skips you may have seen for sale in outlets of shops such as Woodies. But the pricing can be a bit confusing, so do the sums before you purchase. For example, a bag measuring about 2 cubic yards will cost you €18.50 to buy, but you must pay a further €78 to get collected, so €96.50 in total. Similarly, the larger bag will cost €19.99 to buy, plus a further €119 for collection. An advantage of opting for a bag over a skip, however, is that you may find a more private spot for it than in front of your house which can encourage others to dump their waste in your skip. And you won't be under pressure to clean your house and get it filled. Although on the other hand, a bit of pressure can be a good thing.


Garden waste

If tidying up your garden is on your mind before the winter comes, you will need to find a way to dispose of all your cuttings. However, it's worth shopping around before you decide where you're going to dispose of your grass and hedge trimmings.

If your refuse collector offers a brown bin service, you may be tempted to avail of it given the convenience of having a bin at home, and the fact that you don't need to How much are you paying to, Refuse charges* Annual fee Panda (black & green bin) 64 Oxigen (Cavan) 360 Greenstar (Dun LaoghaireRathdown) i 65 Greenstar (Corkj ; 309 for standard] bring your waste anywhere. However, tread carefully as it can be expensive.

For example, Panda imposes a service charge of €22 a year, plus €2.56 per lift and 16 cent a kilo for brown bin users. As an estimate, you could expect a refuse sack of grass clippings to weigh about 10kg. So, four such bags or one bin lift will cost about €9, plus the standing charge of €22 a year.

A better deal then might be to load up your car - protecting it first by putting down some plastic sheeting - and bringing it to a recycling or garden waste centre. Dublin City Council recycling centre will charge you €2 a bag, or in Cork, you'll pay €5 for up to four bags at Kinsale Road Civic Amenity.

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