Cork City Council is to withdraw from the provision of waste collection services in the city from August 15th next and is transferring its operations to Country Clean Recycling Ltd. who will provide the service to existing Council customers.
The decision was announced at a meeting of Cork City Council held on Monday 27th June by City Manager, Tim Lucey, and follows a comprehensive review of all the options open to the Council with regard to the service.
There will be no immediate change to existing collection methods and existing waivers will be honoured until April 15th 2013.
“Cork City Council can no longer continue to incur the significant losses arising from the provision of the service and must avoid the heavier losses projected for the future,” said Mr. Lucey.
He told Councillors that the Council’s waste collection service was facing a loss of €2.5 million this year and a loss of almost €5 million was projected for 2012. This would arise from the continuing erosion of the Council’s customer base in the face of intensive price competition from private operators and from the obligations to meet onerous new operational and capital costs associated with the implementation of new National and EU policy directives.
“In order to stem the increase in losses in 2011 and to try to stay within the budgeted loss of €1.8 million, adopted by the Council in 2010, it would be necessary to levy a charge of €75 for Old Age Pensioners and to increase the price per tag from €6 to €8 for a 240 litre bin and €3 to €5 for the 140 litre bin. This would potentially make the Council’s service even less competitive.”
Most private operators collect on a national basis and have access to a much larger customer base, unlike Cork City Council which is limited to city collection. This allows private collectors the economies of scale and competitive advantage which the Council can never enjoy. Also, larger private operators own and operate the vast infrastructure now necessary for the collection, transfer, re-cycling, treatment and disposal of waste, the use of which must be paid for by the City Council.
As a result of increased competition from private operators, Cork City Council’s domestic and non-domestic customer numbers have declined dramatically in recent years. Non-domestic customer numbers stand at 700 while domestic customers have declined from 40,000 to 25,000 since 2006. Half of the Council’s domestic customers are on full or partial waivers. Cork City Council operates a very generous waiver system and in doing so foregoes €4.1 milion per annum in income.
Mr. Lucey added: “Cork City Council has always operated a very generous waiver system from its own resources. We have made it a condition of the transfer of the service to Country Clean Recycling that existing waiver arrangements will be honoured by that company until April 15th 2013.”
No compulsory redundancies will occur in the course of this transfer. Indeed, Mr. Lucey acknowledged the significant long standing flexibility and commitment of his staff, who delivered an excellent standard of service at all times.
As of today, there are only four remaining local authorities in this country who continue in the refuse collection business. It is timely now for a National Waiver Scheme to be examined.
An Information Line Freefone No. 1800 283 034 will operate from 10.30 a.m. to 4.00 p.m. Monday to Friday, until Friday July 8th, to answer customer queries. Information sheets will be distributed to all customers by Cork City Council and the new service provider will issue full information packs in the coming weeks to all existing Cork City Council Customers.