In our opinion, therefore, considerable efforts must also be made to achieve much more ambitious environmental targets, in particular by increasing recycling volumes and qualities by extending product responsibility. To reach such goals, we need a recyclables law that not only includes tough regulations regarding the recycling of municipal household waste but that also – at a later stage – implements product responsibility for commercial waste as well.
For the most part, we agree with your statement that, being a competitive society in a social market economy, services must be put out to tender regularly and be governed by competition. Indeed, this was the reason why the proposal submitted by a number of states to make local authorities responsible for organising the collection, sorting and recycling of waste packaging and waste made of similar materials was not pursued. The Bundesrat has now ruled overwhelmingly in favour of a compromise in which local authorities are merely responsible for organising the collection of waste packaging and waste made of similar materials (including glass packaging via other containers) whilst the businesses responsible for the products must organise the subsequent sorting and recycling. This model ensures competition is not restricted.
It should be highlighted here that local authorities should, as a general rule, put the collection of recyclables out to tender in line with public procurement laws. Notwithstanding the above, local authorities must be given the option to collect these materials themselves via in-house tenders. Local authorities are responsible for organising the services and have the right to decide how they should be offered to their local residents, e.g. via kerbside collection schemes or via recycling centres. A so-called standard cost payment scheme is being planned for the collection of light sales packaging and glass which should provide flat rates to cover all costs (including the previous ancillary costs). A transparent system will be used to fix these standard costs by looking at the results of earlier tenders put out for collecting these materials. This will make it possible to set up flat rates for the collection costs and will also ensure there is a cap on the costs so that they cannot grow disproportionately. Consequently, there will no longer be a need to negotiate the time-consuming and costly voting agreements, as is currently the case for paper, card and cardboard, which will also reduce the amount of red tape.
The apprehension felt by the private waste management sector that local authorities may not put the collection of recyclables out to tender and so not open up the market to privately owned firms but (possibly increasingly) carry out these services (again) themselves and push out any competition is not without cause. However, it should be pointed out here, that these services are, for the most part, being put out to tender across the country. There is no reason why this should change especially as the private waste management sector can do a lot themselves to counteract the current trend towards renationalisation by submitting fair and competitive offers.
On the other hand, it would be difficult to justify a public procurement law to a local authority with its own unincorporated business that forbids it taking part in the tender process for its own district or makes it necessary for them to change the status of their waste management business to that of a separate legal entity so it can participate in the tender. With this in mind, we would ask you to understand the point of view of local authorities who do not wish to have their public duties curtailed by being forced to put services out to tender, even if the volume of materials affected here
is relatively small.
Ultimately, it remains to be said that the main obstacle to a recyclables law being passed is the moot point of whether a relatively small number of local authorities should, in the future, be prevented from awarding contracts for waste collection services via in-house tenders. We do believe, however, that this problem is not insurmountable. On the other hand – and you may be in full agreement here – the success of a recyclables collection scheme depends very much on the volume and the quality of the materials collected by local inhabitants. It does not help here to simply raise recycling targets. So far, the Federal Ministry for the Environment has remained silent on this crucial issue because the dual systems are unable to influence households directly. Even manufacturers admit that local authorities play an essential role here providing a “face for local residents”. If local authorities have such a key role in this collection process – also because it is they that have the possibility to impose any necessary sanctions – then it stands to reason that they are also made responsible for organising the collection of the materials. This is one of the main reasons why we believe it is essential that they are given this responsibility.
We very much hope that our arguments here have provided you with a greater insight into the position held by the states and have taken the liberty of assuming you are happy for this letter to be made public to a wider audience.