Tuesday 18 December 2018

Watchdog examines cartel allegations among waste companies in Dublin

Secret recording sparks new investigation into claims that bin companies are carving up city

the State’s competition watchdog is examining a new complaint of a cartel operating among waste companies in Dublin. Stock image
the State’s competition watchdog is examining a new complaint of a cartel operating among waste companies in Dublin. Stock image
Philip Ryan

Philip Ryan

THE State's competition watchdog is examining a new complaint of a cartel operating among waste companies in Dublin, the Sunday Independent can reveal.

The Competition and Consumer Protection Commission (CCPC) confirmed it is examining a recording of a waste company staff member apparently admitting that firms carve up areas of the capital for bin collections - a breach of competition law.

"The CCPC can confirm it has been provided with information from a complainant alleging anti-competitive conduct, criminal in nature, within the waste sector in Dublin," a spokesman said.

The recording was made by Fingal County councillor Keith Redmond, who gave the recording to the watchdog last year.

In the 10-minute recording, the waste company staff member said bin companies split up areas of the city to ensure none of the firms went out of business.

"They are at a certain point now you have X amount of customers and we have X amount of customers - fine, you have this area and we'll have this area," the staff member said.

"Now if we went into their area, they'd come into ours, and if they came into ours we'd go back into theirs and there would just be a war. It would come to the stage where one of the big companies would be shut down - and that is unfortunately how it would work," he added.

The CCPC is understood to be eager to speak to anyone in the waste sector who could support claims made in the recording.

A spokesman said the watchdog has "undertaken a considerable volume of work" since receiving the recording.

"As we are an enforcement body, we cannot comment on the specifics of our investigative work or provide an indication of the outcome of this screening process," he added.

He said the watchdog must compile a "very high standard" of evidence before a file can be sent to the Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP) seeking enforcement orders against a company.

Mr Redmond said it was "absolutely vital" that the CCPC investigates the entire waste sector.

"I call on the minister to immediately suspend the new charging regime, which gives bin companies the freedom to charge whatever they want," he said.

Separately, the CCPC is carrying out at a countrywide study of the household waste collection market and will make detailed recommendations to the Government in the coming months.

Minister for Communications Denis Naughten has appointed Frank Conway as the Government's watchdog over the new pay-by-weight pricing regime, introduced last year.

Sunday Independent

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