Waste service buyers told to open up competition

25 May 2006
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26 May 2006 | Paul Snell

Procurement in the waste industry needs to be more competitive, according to a study by the Office of Fair Trading (OFT).

In More Competition, Less Waste, published by the OFT this month, it is argued that having a more competitive waste management market will provide better value for clients and encourage innovative solutions to England's waste problems. The sector is estimated to be worth £2 billion a year.

One of the major recommendations is that local authorities should not require bidders to have previous experience in waste collection, in order to encourage more interest. It said the service is "relatively simple".

However, Steve Lee, chief executive of the Chartered Institution of Wastes Management, told supplymanagement.com that waste collection is becoming increasingly complex.

"The industry's record on health and safety has to improve," he said. "This can only happen if waste collection contractors have an in-depth understanding of the potential dangers and are skilled in reducing risks."

He added that waste collection is the public face of the local authority, so it is important to have a good service.

The OFT responded to concerns that contractors with experience would lose their advantage: "It's not about discounting experience, it's about not raising artificial barriers to entry. Councils need to look at as many bids that people put in, but be convinced that the contractor can deliver the service," a spokesman said.

The report also recommended procuring shorter contracts of three to five years instead of the current average of seven, and to make sure there are no advantages for in-house providers.

It is hoped that increased competition will help councils make £300 million efficiency gains in their waste services, and that increased innovation will help them meet EU directives aimed at reducing England's reliance on landfill.

SMmay2006

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