Domestic waste policy in Ireland - economization and the role of accounting

Martin Quinn, Orla Feeney

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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 outthese concepts. The period of analysis is 1996 to 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 limitation/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.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)2111-2138
JournalAccounting, Auditing & Accountability Journal
Issue number8
Early online date09 Sep 2020
Publication statusPublished - 04 Nov 2020


  • waste policy, calculation, economization, accounting concepts


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