Photo by Caroline McNally

Richie Taplin says locals petitioned the council for recycling facilities 10 years ago in the Oliver Bond local authority flats where he lives. They still don’t have any.

“It has been an ongoing issue. The kids are learning about it in school, and then they don’t have the facilities at home,” he says.

When his own children started school in nearby St Audoen’s, they recycled at school but couldn’t at home, he said.

After years of complaints, though, that might change later this year.

Whose Responsibility?

Councillors, such as independent Mannix Flynn, have at different times raised the issue with Dublin City Council managers of the lack of recycling facilities in local authority apartments.

He says he never got a clear answer on why it hasn’t been facilitated.

Back in September 2016, a spokesperson for Dublin City Council Press Office said that the waste-management company Greyhound was responsible for providing the recycling facilities to all householders.

“All waste collection companies operating in Dublin City should be operating a three bin system,” said the spokesperson at the time.

That position seems to have changed, though.

On 28 February, a spokesperson for Dublin City Council said that they are currently in the process of rolling out the green bins to the apartments they manage, following a successful pilot in St Michan’s House, last year.

“Responsibility for the provision of recycling facilities rests with the local authority who already has over 80 sites with green bins in situ,” he said.

There are plans to provide the green-bin collection system at all locations across the city, he said.

According to a spokesperson for waste-management company Greyhound, which is working with the council on the roll-out, that will be for 20 sites in the coming months.

Wait and See

The arguments in favour of giving green bins to families in local-authority complexes are clear.

“It is critical that everyone gets the opportunity to recycle,” says Ian Carey from the Irish Environmental Network.

“The environmental damage that is created from waste going to landfill or incineration is substantial.”

Says Flynn: “The situation in the social housing complexes is deplorable.”

Those who have been pushing for some time for the complexes to be given green bins say they will wait to see if it actually happens.

Flynn, who sits on the council’s environment committee and a subcommittee that looks at waste-management issues, said neither has had reports about a pilot scheme or the roll-out of green bins.

“It’s just not true,” he says. “In social housing flats there are no facilities for segregating waste and that is a fact.”

Flynn says he will wait for a report on the issue and to see evidence that it is now happening.

People Before Profit Councillor Tina MacVeigh, who chairs the subcommittee on waste-management issues, says she had heard that the council might review the situation but she hasn’t seen any report on it.

The introduction of recycling in the social-housing complexes would be welcome, she says. “It’s definitely the direction we need to go in.”

In the Flats

According to bye-laws issued in 2013, all householders must segregate waste.

Carey of the Irish Environmental Network said he can’t understand why those who live in apartments wouldn’t be expected to recycle.

“It makes no sense to suggest that this is too difficult to manage,” he says. “There are plenty of examples of apartment blocks which are managed by companies allowing for recycling …”

Carey says policymakers here seem to be missing the point that recycling is ultimately good for the economy. “Recycling is the first step to developing a truly circular economy where we use and reuse items again and again,” he said.

“Ireland stands to gain from the circular economy as there are far more jobs in waste treatment than simply transporting it to landfill,” he says.

Laoise Neylon is a reporter for Dublin Inquirer. You can reach her at

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