Westmeath County Council does not plan to provide public compost bins in the Athlone Moate parish this summer, but plans to pilot a separate dry recycling / general waste bin at a high-traffic location in Athlone.

This was the council’s response to a request from Green Councilor Louise Heavin, who called for the introduction of public compost bins alongside waste bins for recycling, and also for an increase in the number of bins provided by the council to allow for a summer outdoors. Pointed out that there are “no composting facilities on site,” Cllr Heavin said the council must put such facilities in place as soon as possible, especially given the fact that most people will enjoy a summer outdoors.

Cllr Aengus O’Rourke said he was “100% behind” the Greens’ motion, but while Service Director Barry Kehoe said he could “see merit in the proposal,” he said there were “no plans” for them at the moment Provision of public compost bins.

Mr Kehoe said the council needed to organize a separate collection for compostable material, which would cause difficulties as they were constrained by budgets and staffing problems. “It’s a shame to see compostable waste ending up in the general trash cans, but providing public compost bins is going to be a challenge and we need to educate people first,” he said.

Before compost bins can be made available in public areas, the local authority must first promote a “better uptake” of the third bin (for compostable materials) at the household level, Kehoe said.

“If we can educate people at home, the more likely they are using a compost bin in a public area,” he added.

However, the council’s written response to Cllr Heavin’s request states that there are plans to pilot a separate dry recycling / general waste bin at a high-traffic location in Athlone.

“All outdoor dining companies and all commercial businesses are responsible for the disposal of the waste they generate, and individuals are encouraged to dispose of their garbage responsibly,” the council said in its response.

Cllr Heavin said she was “disappointed” with the council’s response, but welcomed the fact that the so-called “latte levy” on disposable coffee cups is due to come into effect later this year.