The CCPC says there are characteristics "of a natural monopoly"

A consumer watchdog says the household waste collection market should be regulated.

The Competition and Consumer Protection Commission (CCPC) has published a report looking at the sector.

It found the domestic waste collection market in Ireland is "highly concentrated" - and becoming increasingly so.

The CCPC said the market is "extremely complex" and that State, commercial and consumer interests are continually overlapping and often conflict with each other.

The current side-by-side competition model means that, subject to licensing, waste operators can offer their services in any location and so there may be more than one operator in a given area.

File photo shows uncollected household refuse in Dublin in 2003 | Image: RollingNews.ie

This structure also means price and service levels for waste collection are determined by private operators.

In this context, Ireland's waste collection market is "atypical" among almost all countries in Europe.

The CCPC's analysis found that the household waste collection market exhibits characteristics "of a natural monopoly" - including strong local economies of density and scale, high fixed costs and a large cost advantage for a single operator.

CCPC chairperson Isolde Goggin said: "As a result consumers have little or no power to influence the behaviour of operators in this market."

The Irish Waste Management Association has dismissed the recommendations - suggesting the current system isn't broken and doesn't need fixing.