One waste collection system in the Czech Republic raises competition concerns
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One waste collection system in the Czech Republic raises competition concerns

The only company authorized to collect and recover packaging waste in the Czech Republic may be in a conflict of interest due to its dual role as a waste collector, with powers over competitors, violating EU competition rules, the European Commission has warned Prague, according to a statement published today (11 June).

EKO-KOM is the only company operating in the country that has been offering packaging waste collection and recovery services to over 20,000 entrepreneurs for over two decades.

The EU’s executive body believes that national legislation in force since 2002, the Czech Packaging Act, has likely created “significant barriers to entry” for competitors seeking to access the market, noting that “no other company has managed to obtain authorization” for provision of similar services.

Such barriers include permit requirements that are very difficult to meet, such as stringent contractual and financial conditions, the Commission said, including EKO-KOM’s ability to influence other applicants’ permit procedures.

The EU executive mentioned an “uneven playing field” for EKO-KOM’s rivals and criticized the Czech company for its “dual role” as both a market participant competing with each new entrant and a third party exercising certain procedural rights in the process of authorizing new applicants.

“We are concerned that the Czech measures have prevented competing companies from entering the market, with a consequent negative impact on prices, quality, innovation and choice,” said Commission executive vice-president Margrethe Vestager, responsible for competition policy.

Vestager said a letter of formal notice had been sent to the Czech Republic, giving the government two months to respond to the Commission’s concerns.

The Commission’s investigation followed a complaint from the Czech company REMA, which unsuccessfully tried to enter the packaging waste collection and recovery market in the Czech Republic. According to the EU director, five other companies failed to enter the market with the same success.

EKO-KOM was contacted for comment.