Government Plays Monopoly

Simply Waste Solutions is one of six independent waste management companies, who have come together for the first time, to challenge the proposal of local waste and recycling monopolies.

The government has launched a series of consultations to overhaul the waste system, cut plastic pollution and move towards a more circular economy. The Department for Environment Food & Rural Affairs (DEFRA) have proposed plans to improve recycling both from households and businesses.

The group understand that there is much to be applauded including the consultation on changing packaging labels and plans to align the myriad of council recycling schemes to reduce confusion. There has been serious concerns raised among industry specialists following the consultation.

The six waste and recycling companies that make up the group are; Simply Waste Solutions, BPR Group, Cawleys, First Mile, Grundon and KP Waste. Together these waste companies have a combined turnover of more than £235m and collects 1.2m tonnes of waste every year from over 55,000 business clients.

The groups’ clients often achieve recycling rates of over 60%, a significant contrast to the static 45% rate achieved by local authorities and the national waste companies from households in England. The skills, best practice and engagement activities to unlock these higher recycling rates have been overlooked from DEFRA’s initial consultation.

The group have come together to provide their combined expertise to ensure that DEFRA has a representative and full understanding of the market. The concern is that in initial consultations, DEFRA only met with a handful of national waste management companies and none of the medium sized regional companies that are the bedrock of the industry.

As such, 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. 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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