Scary Amount of Food Waste at Halloween

As Halloween  creeps up on us again,  households are stocking up on pumpkins, nuts, apples, and other goulish delights. Spare a thought however for the poor pumpkin of which 25{b050ebef00e2b6e935b95b021e9f55f4ab20ffeed47f29e2aa25a2081fec5bc8} is discraded into the waste bin (landfill) by households.  In the UK this equates to 18,000 tonnes of needless waste. And UK’ers could use this “waste” to make pumpkin soup, or put in the compost heap or the brown bin!pumpkin1

In Ireland..

we discard 1 million tonnes of food waste per year. Our fruit and veg share a fate similar to the pumkin in that 25{b050ebef00e2b6e935b95b021e9f55f4ab20ffeed47f29e2aa25a2081fec5bc8} of them goes in the grey bin. Our most popular discarders are potatoes, apples and bananas. Salads fare worse with householders throwing 50{b050ebef00e2b6e935b95b021e9f55f4ab20ffeed47f29e2aa25a2081fec5bc8} of them into the residual bin.

It is extimated that 60{b050ebef00e2b6e935b95b021e9f55f4ab20ffeed47f29e2aa25a2081fec5bc8} of the food waste generated by householders is avoidable. We can achieve this by reviewing how we shop, store our food, prepare it, cook it and reuse or recycle it. Another 20{b050ebef00e2b6e935b95b021e9f55f4ab20ffeed47f29e2aa25a2081fec5bc8} can be avoided by the use crusts, peels and cut offs. Recognising simple things like that in a baked potato the skin and flesh are equally important. Both provide equal amounts of nutrients and vitamin C , while the skin provides 80{b050ebef00e2b6e935b95b021e9f55f4ab20ffeed47f29e2aa25a2081fec5bc8} of the potato’s iron. Using both  helps to reduce food waste.

Consumers can also reduce their food waste by not accepting the sometimes unrealistic use-by dates on food, when a simple sniff can inform you that the food is perfectly edible.

So this Halloween spare a thought for the poor Pumpkin. And before you gorge out it’s inners, ask yourself what I am going to do with them…..something goulish I hope…ha, ha, ha.puking-ppumkin


Bio-waste, A Lot Done and A Lot More To Do!

Recent statistics from Europe show that Ireland is the 7th largest producer per capita of municipal waste and has a lot of work to do to catch up with its EU counterparts!  Municipal waste is collected by or on behalf of municipal authorities and disposed of through waste management systems. It consists mainly of waste generated by households, although it also includes similar waste from sources such as shops, offices and public institutions. And Ireland produced 586kg per person in 2014 (the latest available data). The average production per capita across the 28 EU members is 475kg. We therefore produce on average 109kg (23{b050ebef00e2b6e935b95b021e9f55f4ab20ffeed47f29e2aa25a2081fec5bc8}) more per person than our EU counterparts. waste_level_kg_per_capitaOf the 240 million tonnes  produced in Europe, 27{b050ebef00e2b6e935b95b021e9f55f4ab20ffeed47f29e2aa25a2081fec5bc8} was sent to landfill, 27{b050ebef00e2b6e935b95b021e9f55f4ab20ffeed47f29e2aa25a2081fec5bc8} was recycled, 26{b050ebef00e2b6e935b95b021e9f55f4ab20ffeed47f29e2aa25a2081fec5bc8} was incinerated and 15{b050ebef00e2b6e935b95b021e9f55f4ab20ffeed47f29e2aa25a2081fec5bc8} was composted.  Ireland’s recycling rate in 2014 was 34{b050ebef00e2b6e935b95b021e9f55f4ab20ffeed47f29e2aa25a2081fec5bc8}, some 7{b050ebef00e2b6e935b95b021e9f55f4ab20ffeed47f29e2aa25a2081fec5bc8} above the EU average, while  its composting rate was 6{b050ebef00e2b6e935b95b021e9f55f4ab20ffeed47f29e2aa25a2081fec5bc8}, well below the EU average of 15{b050ebef00e2b6e935b95b021e9f55f4ab20ffeed47f29e2aa25a2081fec5bc8}. Recent reports also indicate that 427,000 tonnes of Irish waste was turned into fuel for  energy plants. One such plant will be the Poolbeg incinerator, which will incinerate 600,000 tonnes of waste per annum.

Brown Bin is a Must!

waste treatmentThese figures show  the need for households to utilise the Brown Bin, as 94{b050ebef00e2b6e935b95b021e9f55f4ab20ffeed47f29e2aa25a2081fec5bc8} of bio waste is still, it would appear from the 2014 Euro Stat figures, going either to landfill or being contaminated, so as to be of little value. It is hoped that figures would improve with the roll out of the Brown Bin and the introduction of Pay By Weight . But alas Pay by Weight has been shelved, and as no recent statistics have been produced  since 2014, our ranking among our peers is unknown. As of today we do not know if we have met the target set by the EU as to the amount of Biodegradable Municipal Waste that we can direct to landfill. Current fears are that we have not, and that not only will fines be imposed on us but valuable resources will continue to be lost and wasted …. the ultimate lose, lose!

Where does our Food Waste Go?

epa 2015 graph

Waste Treated by Composting and AD Plants in 2015

In their recent report on Composting and Anaerobic Digestion in Ireland, the EPA stated that 300 thousand tonnes of  food and biowaste was treated by Composting and AD Plants in Ireland in 2015. Of this 65{b050ebef00e2b6e935b95b021e9f55f4ab20ffeed47f29e2aa25a2081fec5bc8} (195 ktonnes) was municipal waste, that is canteen waste, kitchen waste and garden waste. The EPA elaborated further by telling us that 39{b050ebef00e2b6e935b95b021e9f55f4ab20ffeed47f29e2aa25a2081fec5bc8} of this waste is commercial. They indicated that these plants treat  approximately 120 thousand tonnnes of household waste (collected via the brown bin), or 25kg per person. Of this 25kgs, the EPA stated that 10{b050ebef00e2b6e935b95b021e9f55f4ab20ffeed47f29e2aa25a2081fec5bc8} is garden waste meaning that for each person, 23kg of food waste was treated by Composting and AD Plants in 2015.

Where does Ireland's Food Waste End Up?

Where does Ireland’s Food Waste End Up?

The EPA also informed us that each person generated approximately 80kg per year of household food waste. This unfrotunately means over 55kg per person of food waste (or 253 thousand tonnes) is disposed of in other ways. Of this 253 ktonnes the EPA tell us that 31 ktonnes went to Northern Ireland for processing  in 2015. This then leaves 232 ktonnes of brown waste that is  mixed, it would appear, with residual waste. In 2015 the mechanical treatment of residual waste resulted in the extraction of 119ktonnes of organic fines (that is organic waste with limited value and can be used to cover landfill). This left approximately 113 ktonnes of organic waste that is either dumped, landfilled or exported. Unfortunately no one can shed light on the ultimate destination of this 113 ktonnes of food waste

What a Waste!

What however, the statistics available do show us is that only about 36{b050ebef00e2b6e935b95b021e9f55f4ab20ffeed47f29e2aa25a2081fec5bc8} of household food waste is segregated correctly. Thus leaving 2/3 of the food waste generated by households which cannot be recycled for use as compost due to contamination. What a waste!

Reports on Householders’ Waste to Replace Pay by Weight for Now!

On the last day of June 2016, the eve of the introduction of Pay By Weight,  Minister Coveney signed into law Statutory Instrument 346 which “removed the requirement on the collector of household waste to charge on a Pay by Weight per kilogramme basis” .

Enforcement..By Whom?

Enforcement..By Whom?

He replaced it with a system of soft touch regulation and discretionary enforcement!  Firstly it appears that it will be up to the waste service providers to  decide whether they wish to penalise householders who do not segregate their waste. If they do decide to do so, they must set this out in their Customer Charter to include the actions and penalties that they will impose. Secondly the waste collector, when requested to do so will provide to local authorities details of  a householder’s  collection service, including the waste types collected,  and when they  last collected. They must also provide names of householders who choose not to “partake in the collection of  separate classes of household waste”.



Thirdly the collector will report monthly  to each person who presents waste (which should  include management companies in the case of Multi Unit Developments), the weight of the various waste types collected and the registration of the truck which collected the waste. This may be seen as a stepping stone on the way to the future enactment of Pay by Weight, in that those who do not avail of a household waste collection system will be reported to the local authority. Meanwhile customers who do partake will be given monthly reports showing the amounts and types of waste they produce. Alternatively it can be seen as the abandonment of Pay-By-Weight as it  will be up to the waste collector to decide if non segregated waste will be collected, and only when requested, will information of a general rather than specific nature will be provided to the local authority.

Pay by weight

Pay by Weight Report

This information does not necessitate, it would seem, identifying waste presenters who do not segregate their waste. It would appear therefore that regardless of the mandate set out by the European Union (Household Food Waste and Bio-Waste) Regulations 2015,  waste service providers and the local authorities in concert will be quite willing to collect and to have collected waste which is contaminated with bio-waste. As there will be no financial penalty for not segregating your waste (as there is no Pay by Weight), enforcement it would seem consists of sending reports to householders and management companies and hoping that they will do the right thing and segregate their waste at source.

waste pay by weight

Fines..more Fines

This can be difficult when a large trench of householders, most MUD’s and most college campuses do not and have not been supplied with Brown Bins. Do we have another Irish solution to an Irish problem? We ignore the accepted principles of the polluter pays and environmental sustainability, while at the same time we expose the country once again to serious crippling EU fines ?



Pay by Weight, Italian Style

Pay by Weight

“Paga Quanto Butti”

Following the recent Pay By Weight fiasco here in Ireland, it might be worthwhile for the powers that be to look at the city of Parma in Italy, where they successfully have implemented Pay By Weight, or as the Italians would say “Paga Quanto Butti” (Pay As You Throw). Parma has a population of approximately 200,000 and while it is famous for its ham and cheese, it is also now claiming fame as a city heading toward Zero Waste.  In 2011 Parma was Italy’s largest producer of residual waste at 283kg per capita and thanks to political will and a strategy based on minimising waste, this has been reduced to just over 120kg per capita and is expected to go below 100kg before the end of 2016. This was achieved through the co operation of all stake holders, the local authorities, the residents and the waste service providers, Waste Brown Bin Pay by Weightwho coincidentally also owned an incinerator and were dealing with Parma’s Municipal Solid Waste. This transition has resulted in the creation of nearly 50 extra jobs and a yearly saving of over €3.5m in waste disposal costs.Pay by Weight, Waste Segregation Lateral thinking seems to have been the order of the day in Parma, with waste collections in the inner city being performed at night, with more frequent waste collections of bio waste and residual waste in the inner city, with buckets being used for biowaste and bags being used for residual waste. In the residential areas wheelie bins were used for biowaste with buckets being used for the residual waste, collections were done in the mornings and they are less frequent than in the inner city. Parma also introduced an Environmental Brigade to police and monitor the implementation of the waste policy . The Parma Pay By Weight or  Pay As You Throw charges consist of a flat service charge based on the number of occupants and the bio waste food wastesquare meters of the household and a per lift charge for residual waste (€0.7 per bag, €1.4 per bucket and €4.2 per wheelie bin). The result has been that the collections of residual waste have dropped with only 25{b050ebef00e2b6e935b95b021e9f55f4ab20ffeed47f29e2aa25a2081fec5bc8} of residents putting out their residual waste at every collection. There has also been a significant improvement in the quality of waste collected, allowing for quality recycling, an essential pre-condition for a circular economy and ZERO WASTE. Seems simple enough?

Pay by Weight Waste Charges..Eat Less may be the Solution?

The recent announcement by the Minister Coveney, on the postponement or perhaps potential scrapping of Pay by Weight bin charges must be viewed with some scepticism.  In his announcement, set out below, the Minister indicated that an interim dual billing system will Pay by Weight Brown Binoperate during which time customers will be able to see the quantities of waste they are disposing of,  and that Pay by Weight will be reviewed in July 2017. Taking into consideration the large quantity of householders, MUD’s and campus accommodations that do not currently have a Brown Bin service,Pay by Weight Brown Bin it will be difficult if not impossible for those customers to see over time “their costs under the continuation of their current price plan and details of the comparative pay-by-weight charge” At present these customers have only two bins, and have been told that there are no plans for them to receive a Brown Bin regardless of the legal obligation on their Waste Service Providers to provide them with one. This begs the questions, will they be   Pay by Weight Brown Binsupplied with a Brown Bin during the ” 12 month transition phase”, and if not  how will they be able to reduce their bill when they will not be able to properly segregate their waste at source and make a comparative analysis. Eat less perhaps, to be on the save side! 

“Price Freeze and phased introduction of Pay-by-Weight in new Government plan

Environment Minister Simon Coveney today announced the successful conclusion of an agreement with the Waste Industry with regard to the introduction of Pay-by-Weight charging for waste collection.The Government this morning agreed a plan to resolve the on-going issues around bin charging and the introduction of pay by weight. The plan is a comprehensive one which will protect households from increased charges and ensure that the introduction of pay by weight can happen in a way that builds acceptance and understanding of the benefits of Pay-by-Weight over time.

Since the waste industry began releasing its planned pricing plans in relation to the nationwide roll-out of pay-by-weight charging at the start of June, the Government has flagged its significant concerns regarding the reported escalation of waste bills for some customers from July, particularly in relation to proposed increases in service charges. Under the Government plan customers will over time be able to see, through a dual billing process, details in their bills about the amount of waste they are disposing of, their costs under the continuation of their current price plan and details of the comparative pay-by-weight charge.

At the end of this 12-month transition period (in July 2017), the Government will review the operation of pay-by-weight, including the effectiveness of the transition process, and make decisions regarding its further roll-out, regulation and oversight of the sector.

Crucially, the plan also provides assurances for users of incontinence products supplied by the HSE that they will not face additional charges under pay by weight and that operators will absorb this cost. 

Appropriate amendments to the waste legislation will be made to provide for comparative billing information for customers and opt-in arrangements. 

The operation of the price freeze by the industry will be closely monitored by Government and, in the event of evidence of it not being honoured, the Minister will ensure that primary legislation is brought forward to legislate to enforce the freeze”

Minister Coveney, June 21st 2016

Is Pay by Weight Dead?

Pay by Weight Brown Bin

Poolbeg Incinerator will not handle Contaminated Mixed Waste

Brown Bin Pay by Weight

Mixed Black Waste awaiting Export in Drogheda

Pay by Weight Brown Bin

Landfill.. a home for Contaminated Mixed Waste

The decision to suspend the introduction of Pay by Weight by Minister Coveney must be perplexing to anyone familiar with waste management as it endorses the activity of those who do not segregate their waste, by mixing recyclables, food waste and residual waste in one black bag. Not only is this bag of contaminated waste potentially destroying the recyclables in it but also requires further processing if it is to be used as a fuel for incineration.  Untreated black residual waste is therefore destined for either landfill or export, and with landfill sites being closed it would appear that the export of waste will continue to be an Irish solution. Treated black residual waste can be incinerated however in the process large quantities of recyclables will be destroyed, the removed waste will be of no value and a use will have to be found for the residual ash. It is estimated that the amount of this black waste produced per Dublin household per year can be reduced by 354kg with the introduction of Pay by Weight scheme. This equates to approximately 200,000 tonnes of black waste that can be diverted from incineration and landfill on a yearly basis. In the media frenzy that recently evolved in  relation to PBW the potential savings per household as a result of proper waste segregation was not given air time, nor were the downstream benefits such as the production of compost and the use of recyclables and renewables. Nor was air time given to the downstream negatives of having to manage large quantities of black waste, or the fact that it is illegal to dispose of food waste other than by the use of a Brown Bin, as per the Household Food Waste legislation. Currently depositing food waste in the Grey Bin can lead to fines, regardless of whether Pay By Weight is introduced or not, and it is only with strict enforcement will this practice stop and the benefits of proper waste segregation at source be seen and appreciated both environmentally and financially by householders. The introduction of PBW would also give full traceability of waste generated and its origin, and make identifying the “Polluter Who Does Not Pay” easier….something I think we would all endorse!

Pay by Weight Fiasco!!!

The object of Pay by Weight was and is to encourage people to think about the waste they create and introduces in practical terms the “Polluter Pays Principle”, that is if you create waste you pay for disposing of it. Pay by WeightThe majority of domestic waste that people produce is reusable and can be recycled or used as compost, and are what as known as green waste and brown waste. The remaining waste is called general waste and normally went to landfills, which are now being closed off, and rightly so, as a waste solution by EU directives. As a large proportion of householders did not and do not segregate their waste, preferring to put their food waste or indeed all their waste into the general waste Pay by Weight was introduced. While Pay by Weight is a seismic shift in how householders look at their waste, with most seeing the merits environmentally, they are not willing to pay extra to do so. pay by weightUnfortunately there are costs involved in implementing a regime that penalises the polluter, involving extra bins for each household, the kitting out of refuse trucks to be able to weigh each bin, the additional costs of  extra bin rounds for the collection of the more diverse bins, the extra administrative costs etc. For those who recycle and diligently manage their waste this may seem unfair, as their charges may rise, but not as much as those who do not waste segregate or recycle and place all their waste in the general waste. As with all new regimes that increase costs the public have a right to be cynical and sceptical, and it therefore rests with the enforcement agencies to ensure that the bins are monitored and that enforcement is not dependent on the waste service providers or members of the public. For Pay by Weight to succeed, equity and enforcementenforcement are critical and sadly it would appear that those who were responsible for introducing the concept are failing both to educate and inform the public as to the rational and merits of Pay by Weight and to explain how they will police the new regime and what penalties and sanctions  will apply to those who do not abide by the rules and refuse to respect and care for our environment. The polluter has cost us environmentally and is now costing us financially…how much that will be rests with the department, the waste service providers and the enforcement agencies!

Waste Service Providers outlining their Pay by Weight Charges

With the introduction of Pay by Weight charges in three weeks time, Waste Service Providers have begun to outline the charge that they will levy when Pay by Weight comes into effect on July 1st. The charging mechanisms vary with some companies not currently being in a position to provide their charges. Hopefully by the month’s end all Providers will have a schedule of their tariffs available. The charge will consist of a yearly service charge, a potential lift charge per bin, and a cost per kilogram for the various waste types, that is recyclables, biowaste (food waste) and residual (landfill waste). One of the first companies to disclose their charging regime was Thorntons whose charges consist of a 2€/week service charge, a 35c/kilo and 20c/kilo charge for landfill waste and food waste respectively, and no charge per kilo for by weight charges thorntons

This is an excellent start to the introduction of Pay by Weigh charges , with landfill waste being penalised by a factor of 75{b050ebef00e2b6e935b95b021e9f55f4ab20ffeed47f29e2aa25a2081fec5bc8} above food waste, thus encouraging customers to segregate their food waste. And  as recyclables have zero charge per kilo, it now most certainly pays to segregate and recycle your waste. Furthermore by using Brustibinbrustibin_logo, not only will you save on your waste  charges but you will do so effortlessly and without a hassle!

Compostable Liners..How Good are They? Better than most..


Brustibag does not Leak!

With the forthcoming introduction of Pay by Weight Waste Charges, discussions have been ongoing regarding the use or otherwise of Compostable Liners. Firstly a distinction must be made between Compostable Liners and Biodegradable Liners, as Compostable Liners decompose more quickly, do not leave any harmful residue after decomposition and are compatible with the now mandatory Brown Bin collection service. Compostable liners can be easily indentified as they are compliant to EU standard EN13432. Apart from being Compostable, they are semi-permeable allowing air to permeate through the liner, while not allowing moisture out. Therefore they do not leak, and allow air in to dry the waste!

Pay by Weight Brown Waste


Pay by Weight Brown Bin

Food Box

Pay by Weight Brown Bin

Paper Liner



They are heat resistant to 75 degrees, meaning that they can handle hot food. They easily fit the shape of the container which they are lining and are easily tied for transferring to the brown bin.These characteristics, when combined with the use of a vented caddy or inner bin, allows the bio waste to gradually dry, reducing its weight and preventing odours. They are non absorbent in that they do not absorb juices or moisture that may be in the biowaste so they do not discolour , become stained or become mouldy.

Once full and tied, and prior to the onset of decomposition, which usually begins after five days use, the liner is dry and clean and easily handleable. And to top it all, they usually come in rolls of 20 (e.g. Brustibags) saving on storage space ,and as they cost approximately 15-20cents per liner, they not only are the best, but also the most cost effective solution for biowaste collection and storage in the kitchen