Domestic waste costs in Ireland

A few months ago, myself and a colleague from Dublin City UniversityOrla Feeney, published a paper in Accounting Auditing and Accountability Journal titled “Domestic waste policy in Ireland – economization and the role of accounting” – see this link

The paper details how domestic waste collection in Ireland evolved over time from a free (to the end consumer) merit good, to a pay by weight system run by private enterprises. We used the notion of economization to frame the story of how accounting concepts played a role in this journey. The paper abstract is below.

In the paper, we noted “to say the sector became “financialized” would be an over claim as all firms involved were/are privately owned and not subject to financial market forces”. Well, this is perhaps no longer the case, as the Irish Times of January 15th reports one of the waste firms is up for graps with a valuation of €1bn – see here. Great to see a link from the paper to actual events.

See more of my research publications look at my research profile .

Paper abstract:


This paper examines how accounting concepts were utilised in domestic waste collection services in Ireland over the past two decades or so. In comparison to other former “free” services in the Irish context, the prevalence of accounting concepts has been greater and delivered a more successful outcome.


Drawing on the concepts of calculation, the “economic” and economization, events around domestic waste policy in Ireland are examined, and the increasing prevalence of concepts such as price, cost and profitability in these processes are a focal point. Publicly available documents such as government policy documents, parliamentary records and media reports are utilised to draw out these concepts. The period of analysis is 1996–2018.


The findings reveal the role of accounting concepts in the economization of domestic waste policy in Ireland. The result of the economization process was a fully privatised, profit-oriented, price-monitored system.

Research limitations/implications

This research provides a broad view of accounting concepts in the management of domestic waste. It highlights how waste policy in Ireland travelled through instances of being political and economic over time. The research is limited by its use of secondary data.


This study highlights how accounting concepts were used in varying ways to bring about a satisfactory solution to domestic waste disposal in Ireland, namely the privatisation of waste services.


About martinjquinn

I am an accounting academic, accountant and author based near Dublin, Ireland.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

%d bloggers like this: