Austrian waste management firm fined €6.6m by EU

An Austrian waste management firm has been ordered to pay €6.6 million for breaking EU rules. According to the European Commission, Altstoff Recycling Austria (ARA) blocked competitors from entering the […]

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By Jacqueline Echevarria

An Austrian waste management firm has been ordered to pay €6.6 million for breaking EU rules.

According to the European Commission, Altstoff Recycling Austria (ARA) blocked competitors from entering the nation’s market for management of household packaging waste from 2008 to 2012.

In Austria, producers of goods are obliged to take back packaging waste that results from the use of their products. They may transfer this task to a company that takes care of the collection and recycling for them against a licence fee paid by goods’ producers.

ARA has been the dominant provider of these services for household packaging waste in Austria since at least 2008.

The Commission found the nationwide collection infrastructure, partly controlled and partly owned by ARA, could not be duplicated which meant competitors who wanted to enter in the market were dependent on receiving access by the firm.

ARA refused to give access to this infrastructure between March 2008 and April 2012, the Commission found.

After the Commission started its investigation, Austria adopted a new waste law and ARA began granting access to its household waste collection infrastructure. The fine was reduced by 30% due to the firm’s co-operation.

Margrethe Vestager, Commissioner in charge of competition policy said: “The waste management sector is an important part of the circular economy. Effective competition is vital for making recycling affordable for consumers. ARA was preventing competitors from accessing essential infrastructure and blocking them from entering the waste management market.”