Small companies selling containers in Sydney say their prices pay for “uncompetitive” behavior, which the regulator is now passing on to the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC).
Earlier this year, the New South Wales waste industry was rocked by changes proposed by the Environmental Protection Agency (NSA) to check for potentially deadly pollutants in recycled waste used in playgrounds, sports grounds and other grounds.
The tough and vocal lapel of the industry argued that the new testing regime would lead to hundreds of job losses and increase bunker rental costs.
This week, under enormous pressure from operators, the EPA abandoned the idea, saying that instead of testing it, it would take an educational approach about the importance of not putting hazardous materials, such as asbestos, in containers.
The EPA said in a statement that it would also “increase monitoring and work closely with industry to improve compliance with existing regulations and ensure that companies understand and comply with their commitments, including asbestos management.”
This is a win-win for waste operators, but potentially not for the environment, as EPA’s own testing found that more than half of facilities producing recovered soil crumb have repurposed material containing asbestos, microplastics and other contaminants.
Amid the controversy, small bunker companies are accusing major operators of taking advantage of the situation to deliberately raise prices and deprive them of business.
Coinciding with the campaign against the proposed EPA changes, waste giant Bingo this week introduced a significant price increase to $ 65 per tonne for mixed waste at some of its plants.
He also abandoned the practice of charging mixed heavy waste per cubic meter and switched to charging by tonnes at the same rate as to the landfill, which further increases prices.
The company said the increase was “necessary” due to “significant financial, regulatory and environmental challenges facing the NSW waste industry.”
While operators like Bingo may charge more and more for landfills and recycling, their own gaps are not sensitive to the same price increases, allowing them to lower competition.
Companies that lease garbage bins alone and do not own garbage facilities claim that they have been sandwiched between the environmental regulator and waste facilities, and their days are numbered.
Bingo NSW Executive Director for Business and Development John Hassett faced angry interrogations from small business owners at an industry meeting Thursday night.
Mr Hasset denied that the price increase was due to the proposed EPA changes, despite the fact that the company had pushed the standard price increase for the industry by seven weeks and directly mentioned the EPA proposal in the material announcing the changes.
Several small operators said their business would collapse under the new pricing regime.
They accused Bingo of not raising its own pass prices, despite claiming that operating costs had risen in all directions due to rising prices for labor, fuel and materials.
“If change costs them so much that they have to raise tariffs over the roof, why are they now selling containers cheaper than a month ago?” This was announced by a spokesman for the newly formed representative group Waste Transporters NSW.
Some said they felt let down by a company that started out as a reliable partner and abandoned them as they grew, and one operator described it as a “foot in the gut”.
“When I came to the industry, Bingo was a major player for me. I built my business around Bing, ”they said.
“They expanded and they gave us assurances that ‘we are a family, we will grow together.’ Give a tip here, we’ll take care of you guys.
“People talk about it from the ground level. We were told that loyalty matters. Now, because of the rising price, you pulled me out of the market. “
A spokesman for Waste Transporters NSW said it would ultimately lose to waste generators – from builders and construction companies to any home that wants to hire a skip to relocate or repair.
“If we died, why would they give cheap prices?” they said.
The EPA has revealed that it is in the process of transferring Bing to the ACCC due to price increases this week.
This is not the first time the ACCC has knocked on Bingo’s door as the multibillion-dollar campaign increases its already significant influence in Sydney.
When Bingo acquired a rival waste collection company Dial-a-dump in 2019, the ACCC intervened, forcing the company to dispose of one of its facilities in Banksmid. It sold CPE Capital less than expected, $ 50 million.
The ACCC’s concerns were based on laws banning acquisitions, which could lead to “significant reductions in competition in any market.”
“Following the acquisition, Bingo will become the largest collector and recycler of construction and demolition waste and will own a significant amount of dry landfills in Sydney,” ACCC Chairman Rod Sims said at the time.
“We are concerned about the effect of the proposed acquisition with respect to recycling, landfilling and collection.”
He said that without significant competitors, especially in the Eastern Suburbs and inland Sydney, fears that the acquisition will lead to higher exit fees.
“Collectors are hoping for access to processing facilities at competitive rates to compete for customers,” he said.
Last year, financial services giant Macquarie acquired Bingo through one of its investment funds for $ 2.3 billion.
CPE Capital reportedly was prepared to buy Bingo along with Macquarie, but later disappeared from the deal.
Bingo and the ACCC declined to comment publicly on the latter issue.