Ireland blazes the trail to charging by weight

With environmental pressures on landfill sites steadily mounting, weighing specialist PM Onboard reports that an increasing number of local authorities within the UK are looking for tailor-made solutions to meet the complex problems of collecting and recycling waste. With each household in the UK producing in excess of a tonne of rubbish a year, the Government is exerting more and more pressure on the 465 local authorities to introduce bigger and better schemes to promote recycling, an area, where in contrast to many EU countries, the UK recycles a mere 13 % of its rubbish.

Specialists in the weighing equipment field, utilising integral sophisticated software, can play a key role in helping local authorities and private contractors introduce cost savings schemes to identify the weight of waste generated by each household together with the weight of recyclable material collected. In addition to providing incentives to change customers' attitudes towards recycling, the benefits extend, more importantly, to reducing the need for more and more landfill sites and ultimately saving taxpayers money, according to PM Onboard.

The company notes that a number of UK councils are already following the lead of councils in Ireland where PM is closely involved in the Irish Government's overall strategy of charging by the weight of waste collected. The weighing specialist states: "It is already evident that collection charges based on the weight of the waste can result in huge reductions in the amount discarded. Consumers become more responsible in their attitude to recycling and the environment and, at the same time, have greater control over the amount they will be charged." As PM Onboard's Marketing Manager, Mark Bottomley, says, "Charging for waste collection by weight helps householders to understand the recycling message - weigh less, pay less. It is fairer than paying a flat weight tax; why should an elderly person pay the same as a large family or a householder running a business from home?"

Variable rate charging

PM has been assessing the impact of differential and variable rate charging (DVR) in countries where it has already been adopted and its potential application for local authorities in the UK. Such schemes, which have been introduced, are stated to have a dramatic impact on the amount of general waste collected, falling on average by 45 % and in Ireland recycling rates have increased by 90 %.

The weighing specialist says that, with its BinWeigh" system, the technology is now readily and easily available for local authorities and private contractors to instigate schemes to charge householders for the amount of waste thrown out. The new technology has made it possible to collect specific data on the type and quantity of rubbish picked up from each householder and then simply download the information back to the office for immediate invoicing.

The pay back on the start-up costs involved in setting up suitable schemes is soon realised, according to PM Onboard. Once the hardware and software packages have been purchased and put into place dramatic results are witnessed in terms of reduction of waste disposed of and local taxpayers' enthusiasm. The company points out that householders pay for the amount of telephone, gas, electricity and water metered, and therefore, arguably, the question could be out as why domestic waste should not be added as the fifth "utility.'

PM adds that, for operators looking at "pay by weight" schemes - there are now many such local authorities now doing so - it offers "revolutionary technology", ranging from the on board weighing system itself, the bins and the microchips, to the individually designed software, which provides management and invoicing systems.

The system itself, the dynamic BinWeigh", identifies and weighs the wheeled bin containers as they operate and is designed to provide a complete Charge-by-Weight Management System. It manages weighing transactions by collecting and downloading the data recorded on the vehicle back to a computer at base. Invoices are simply raised and sent to the customer.

The data can then be used in a multitude of ways, from analysing the weight and time of each bin lifted to operational performance and invoicing the customer. Invoices can be raised to suit the operator's charging policy, whether it be daily, weekly, monthly, quarterly or whenever required. Alternately, the data gathered can be transferred into a separate invoicing programme. The BinWeigh software, which can be installed to any existing computer network, also, provides a multitude of different reports and data for waste management analysis. These include highly detailed evaluations of individual vehicle's efficiency, customers' waste habits and route management.

To complement the BinWeigh" system, PM manufactures its own range of high intensity polythene wheeled bin containers. Complying with the European standard EN 840 - 1/5/6/, PM's bins come in a variety of colours and sizes and can be customised with names and logos. Electronic tags and bungs to suit practically any wheeled bin container application can be supplied to order, the company says, and special locking systems are available on customer demand.

Pioneering in Ireland

Currently, the focus is on Ireland's response to the environmental problems being created by mountains of waste. With effect from 1 January 2005, all local authorities have been required to introduce pay-by-weight household collection schemes.

PM is playing an important role in these schemes, through the employment of its technology, adding that there are now 110 BinWeigh systems in use across Ireland for pay-by-weight and pay-by-use operations While in the UK amendments in legislation would be required to introduce DVR, PM has already supplied 220 of its BinWeigh" systems to both public and private waste operators.

PM Chief Executive, Geoff Mountain, said: "The amount of research and development into designing the BinWeigh" system is now beginning to pay dividends. By working closely with our customers we can see a very bright future for the equipment and in the longer term the taxpayer."


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