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EU criticises its own directives saying they could be abused

Europe's recycling industry, its customers and suppliers, should not abuse the three key pieces of European Union (EU) recycling legislation by indulging in anti-competitive practices, a European Commission report has warned.

Written by Brussels' directorate general (DG) for competition, the paper highlights three laws: Packaging and Packaging Waste directives; the End of Life Vehicle directive; and the Waste Electrical and Electronic Equipment directive.

All three are generating new markets for recycled materials and the report called on participants to:

  • Prevent anti-competitive practices, such as market sharing, price fixing and the exchange of other sensitive information;
  • Ensure there are choices between several waste management systems for companies obliged to recycle their waste; and
  • Avoid exclusive arrangements of any kind, "without solid and convincing economic justification".

While the last two considerations would "allow for increased competition and lower prices", the first involves particular pitfalls, because this behaviour is illegal under EU competition laws and can lead to heavy Commission fines.

The paper noted for instance that 'free take back' schemes involving automobile manufacturers should "not foreclose non-manufacturers of cars as collection and dismantling companies for end of life vehicles".

Generally, national regulations implementing these three directives should be "thoroughly screened as to their impact on competition", said the report.

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