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Evaluating the success of pay-by-use (PBU) domestic waste charges in Ireland

Abigail O’Callaghan-Platt, Anna R. Davies


Irish waste collectors were advised by the Department of Environment, Heritage and Local Government to adopt pay-by-use (PBU) domestic waste charges from 1 January 2005. The measure was taken to combat the rising volumes of waste produced nationally and to apply the ‘polluter pays’ principle to waste charging, in line with EU principles. The implementation of PBU domestic waste charges in Ireland and the impact of these charges nationally, in terms of waste to landfill, recycling and illegal waste diversion, were examined using a combination of postal surveys and telephone interviews with local authorities. The research revealed that PBU has had the desired effect of reducing waste to landfill. However, as currently applied in Ireland, PBU is not reaching its full potential. The use of a variety of PBU charging systems across the country, with one system used widely in Ireland considered internationally as the least effective PBU system available, and the absence of universal curbside recycling services, may have contributed to the relatively small decreases in waste to landfill on a nationwide level when compared to reductions reported internationally.

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