Defra Urged to Listen to Small & Medium Waste Management Firms : Six Waste & Recycling Firms Warn Government Against Creating ‘Monopoly’

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The UK government’s proposal for local waste and recycling ‘monopolies’ is being challenged by a group of six independent waste management companies.

The group comprises of BPR Group, Cawleys, First Mile, Grundon, KP Waste and Simply Waste Solutions and has a combined turnover of more than £235m and collects 1.2m tonnes of waste every year from over 55,000 business clients.

The move follows the Government’s launch of a series of consultations to overhaul the waste system, cut plastic pollution, and move towards a more circular economy, DEFRA’s latest consultation proposed plans to improve recycling both from households and businesses.

The group acknowledges that there is much to applaud here, including the consultation on changing packaging labels and plans to align the myriad of council recycling schemes to reduce confusion, but warns that the consultation has raised serious concerns among industry specialists.

The six companies said that they have come together to provide their combined expertise to ensure that DEFRA has a representative and full understanding of the market.

The group noted that many of its clients often achieve recycling rates of over 60%, a contrast to the static 45% rate achieved from households in England. It also said that the skills, best practice and engagement activities to unlock these higher recycling rates have been overlooked from DEFRA’s initial consultation.

The concern of the group is that in initial consultations, DEFRA only met a handful of national waste management companies and none of the medium-sized regional companies that are the bedrock of the industry.

As such, according to the six firms DEFRA’s understanding of the market is skewed and missing key information, resulting in proposals, such as local monopolies, being put forward as answers to non-existent problems.

They warned that there is real danger here as economic policy in the last 40 years has recognised the potentially damaging outcomes of such monopolies. A lack of motivation to innovate, a reduction in service quality, higher prices and structural inefficiencies are all associated with a single supplier to a market.

The six companies have now submitted a joint response to the DEFRA consultation and are keen to contribute their expertise on an ongoing basis and are therefore calling for DEFRA to include representatives of this group in future discussions.

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