Serco and Kier are among key firms snubbing the opportunity to take part in a controversial waste framework contract.
Both told MRW they would not be bidding for a place on the framework, designed to save councils £85m by pooling collective buying power.
It represents the latest blow for the project, set up by council support organisation Improvement and Efficiency South East (iESE), after MRW revealed market concerns in January.
A Kier spokeswoman said: “We didn’t submit a bid on this occasion because this particular framework did not align with our current business strategy.”
A Serco spokesman said: “Serco did seriously consider the iESE framework contract. However, after assessing this opportunity against our bidding criteria, it was decided not to pursue the contract on this occasion.”
The ESA said it had expressed concerns to iESE about some aspects of its proposals and the deliverability of savings through the framework.
“ESA’s members are committed to providing the best possible value for money for their local authority customers and will continue to do so, whether through iESE’s framework or alternative procurement processes,” an ESA spokesman added.
IESE said it was unable to discuss potential suppliers for the waste framework at this stage.
Alison Templeton, director of procurement, added: “We can say that when the final announcement is made, councils will have a great range of suppliers to choose from and the framework will provide an efficient way for councils to access a range of waste management services.
“iESE and its partners are reshaping the waste market and the framework is a key element of that. Further solutions are coming down the track and we are committed to providing a range of them that will benefit councils and help them save money while providing first class waste services to their residents.”