An investigation into waste taxes and charges

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Title: An investigation into waste taxes and charges
Authors: Dunne, Louise
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Date: Jul-2004
Abstract: This paper reviews the potential for problems regarding public acceptability of environmental taxes with: a review of waste charges literature; a review of the literature on environmental attitudes; and a case study - the municipal waste charge protests in Ireland in 2003 and 2004. These public protests against new waste charges demonstrate the necessity for good advertisement and public relations when introducing a new tax. Rather than explain the polluter pays principle and simultaneously providing a good selection of options for recycling and composting, some municipalities jumped straight into the new tax (for a service that had originally been free of charge and covered by general taxes). Outbreaks of public revolt occurred, with people blockading the streets and refusing to let the collection trucks down their road. We seek to identify the reasons why there was so much resistance to this charge and examine the lessons for the introduction of other environmental taxes and charges in the future. The literature on the various types of municipal waste charge is discussed with a view to seeing if pay-by-weight tends to be more politically acceptable as there is a real incentive and control over the amount of waste collected for landfill or incinerator. The key figures in the Irish waste charge revolts were interviewed in an attempt to gain insights into their reasoning about the acceptability failure of the charge and design measures that could have been taken to avoid this outcome. Reasons for the revolt included: that protesters missed the point of local authorities being recently made responsible for covering the costs of municipal waste (rather than central government); they did not see the polluter-pays principle as related to the public; they felt the government was attempting to double-tax them; they were worried that privatisation meant that the charges could be free to rise exponentially in the future. The findings of the study are analysed to see what, if any, international lessons can be learned from the problems with public acceptance of this environmental charge. The following should be in place to encourage the success of new public taxes and charges: Good alternatives for the taxed behaviour; justification for the tax; terminology of the tax; trust in government; administrative simplicity; gradual introduction; willingness to fine-tune and adapt; community group leader support; and professional marketing and advertising schemes.
Type of material: Working Paper
Publisher: University College Dublin. Department of Planning and Environmental Policy
Copyright (published version): Copyright Louise Dunne (2004)
Subject LCSH: Refuse and refuse disposal--Taxation--Ireland
Environmental impact charges--Ireland
Environmental impact charges--Public opinion
Language: en
Status of Item: Not peer reviewed
Appears in Collections:Geography, Planning and Environmental Policy Working Papers & Policy Briefs

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