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ACM is positive about collaboration waste collectors to stimulate recycling

Collectors of commercial waste are allowed to collaborate to promote waste-recycling. This is the conclusion of the Netherlands Authority for Consumers and Markets (ACM) in response to questions raised by the Dutch Waste Management Association (DWMA, in Dutch: Vereniging Afvalbedrijven).

Several (competing) collectors of commercial waste wish to agree among themselves to always offer new corporate clients a contract for at least two sorted waste streams, for instance residual waste and one other waste stream such as food and yard waste, organic waste, foil, and paper/cardboard. These contracts are for businesses that can deliver at least 240 liters of commercial waste per week.

ACM has positively assessed this plan. This initiative is consistent with a statutory waste-separation obligation applicable to (almost) all businesses that deliver waste (so-called disposers of waste). It additionally offers disposers of waste an extra incentive to separate their waste, and to develop an awareness for sustainable waste management.

What is this case about?

A large part of the commercial disposers of waste is subject to a statutory obligation to separate their waste. However, not everyone is in compliance. That is why the waste collectors have taken the initiative to offer, from now on, contracts with at least two separated waste streams. Separating the waste (at the source) promotes the sustainable economy, because it prevents wasting of raw materials. Effective recycling also ensures that fewer raw materials are needed, and less waste is incinerated. This helps improve the circular use of waste materials in a more sustainable economy.

ACM will not take action against the arrangements affecting disposers that are statutorily required to separate their waste. That is because that involves sustainability agreements that are solely aimed at compliance with statutory sustainability requirements that are (or can) not fully executed or enforced by the relevant authority(ies).

Some commercial disposers are not statutorily required to separate waste. However, the group that is not statutorily obliged to separate waste is so small that the restrictions on competition that might be associated with the initiative for this (limited) group of customers would have a negligible impact on the Dutch market. ACM is therefore not investigating this further.

Policy rule: ACM’s oversight of sustainability agreements

ACM has drawn up a Policy rule “ACM’s oversight of sustainability agreements” (the Policy rule), which offers insight into the application and enforcement of the competition rules on sustainability agreements. This initiative marks the first time that ACM has applied this Policy rule.

ACM and sustainability

ACM ensures that markets work well for people and businesses, now and in the future. Sustainable products and consumption are important in the transition to a more sustainable society. ACM wishes to create the right conditions for promoting the sustainability transition. ACM eliminates obstacles, and offers leeway where possible. We do so not just for businesses that wish to make sustainability agreements. ACM also takes action against businesses that use misleading sustainability claims on their products.

ACM provides answers to the question in what situations competitors are allowed to collaborate with each other in order to realize sustainability objectives. If you have trouble finding an answer or you and/or your advisors seek more information about the Policy rule, please send an email to info [at] acm [punt] nl.

Want to know more about cooperation and sustainability? Visit our page on Sustainability agreements between businesses (in Dutch).