By Amber Baxter and Gerry Hand
Illegal dumpers have taken to Facebook to advertise ‘waste disposal services’ for a fee.
The ads, which are being posted in various buy and sell groups around the county, are very hard to prosecute, says Community Warden for Meath County Council Alan Nolan.
The ads are posted in numerous Facebook groups advertising removal of black bags, skip bags, garden waste, house/shed clearance, and demolition waste. The services are being provided with no National Waste Collection Permit and the waste is then being illegally dumped and a receipt being forged.
When Meath Live contacted one such ad, we were quoted €25 for 5 or 6 black bags worth of waste. When we questioned the individual on whether or not he had a waste collection permit number he simply replied “Yes” and once again when questioned on it, we were blocked from contacting the account altogether.
Alan said,” This is not a new thing. As Facebook grew the problem grew and these people do not care [about the issues they’re creating]”.
He said, “The only two I could find legitimately in county Meath, through the National Waste Collection Permit website, was a crowd called Kollect. He operates out of Kildare but is nationwide.
“He has, I think, a dozen or so trucks on the road collecting but he does it all legitimately. He brings it back to a yard and segregates the waste and he has a waste collection permit to do it”,
“He is actually that busy at the minute that he’s thinking about not advertising on Facebook anymore. The other one we have in Meath is a crowd called Skips On Wheels.
“They operate out of Skerries in Dublin and predominantly do the east coast. He’ll give you his waste collection permit number no problem and he’s doing everything legitimately and correctly”.
However, Alan questions why legitimate businesses are advertising on Facebook in these groups in the first place, “Why is he even on Facebook? Why are any of these lads on Facebook? Look at the likes of Panda, Oxygen, AES or Bord na Móna, they don’t need to do this. Everyone knows who they are and what to do with them”.
The regulations in place within Facebook itself can make it very hard to prosecute these dumpers, says Alan.
“The big problem we’re having is Facebook allowing these advertising sites to be built or put up with no admin. On the other side, you have an admin who doesn’t care”.
Alan said, “We did have a very good contact in Facebook who was doing her best for us, but unfortunately she has left. I have contacted the Advertising Standards Authority for Ireland to see if they can prevent these ads from being posted on Facebook but they told me they can’t do it and that it’s up to Facebook.
”I also got onto the Competition and Consumer Protection Commission and they told us out straight that they can’t ban these ads as they are not on a national broadcaster”.
Catching these illegal dumpers is near to impossible as Gardaí or County Council members getting involved can be seen as entrapment. On top of this, without catching the person in the act of dumping, there are difficulties in proving who did it.
“We can’t enter people’s houses but we can approach these people as they leave a property”, says Alan. “The problem is they spot us a mile off, waste enforcement officers have tried it [approaching them] too but the second they see our van they disappear”,
Alan appealed for people to not give their rubbish to anyone. “It takes ten seconds to go onto the National Waste Collection Permit Office website and put in the guy’s name and go down the list. If the name isn’t on the list they simply don’t have a permit.
In regards to where the rubbish ends up Alan said,“Bohermeen is our hotspot. Where people dump is where there’s no houses. If you go out to a bog there’s no houses, they drive down and wait by the side of the road until the coast is clear and fire out multiple bags”,
“It’s not only Facebook that’s the issue, it’s Adverts and Donedeal as well. I got talking to Adverts Advertising Standard Officer and questioned him on the adverts that they were allowing people to post without waste collection permits and all he had to say was I don’t know anything about that so I tried to explain to him that in this country you cannot do this without a waste collection permit and he said it was nothing to do with him”.
The Council commends on-going efforts by legitimate waste collectors and members of the public to address this issue and will continue to support and complement these efforts, where possible.
Labour councillor Elaine McGinty has tabled a motion for next Mondays council meeting requesting the social media giant to ‘ engage with Meath County Council, about the proliferation of bogus waste collectors advertising on its platform’.
She told us that the problem has actually escalated due to Covid-19, when she said, ‘ A lot of people used the large bins or skips at work to dispose of their household waste, but during lockdown they were all working from home and so resorted to using nonpermit holders to collect their rubbish.
‘I can’t fault the councils’ efforts to combat this but the cost involved in firstly locating the culprit and then prosecuting them is prohibitive’.