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AFCA confirms dawn raids at several Austrian waste companies

Dawn raids started on 16 March 2021

Several waste management companies have allegedly been in breach of antitrust laws for some time. They are suspected of price fixing, market division and concerted practices.

AFCA’s investigations concern companies in the provinces of Carinthia, Lower Austria, Salzburg, Styria, Upper Austria and Vienna.

Dawn raids were carried out simultaneously at more than 20 locations. The Federal Office of Criminal Investigation (BK) and the Regional Office of Criminal Investigation (LKA) are supporting the investigations.

The dawn raids were completed on 22.3.2021.

The Austrian Federal Competition Authority (AFCA) may apply to the Cartel Court for a search warrant if there are justifiable grounds to suspect a breach of the ban on cartels (Article 1 of the Federal Cartel Act - KartG, Article 101 TFEU) or of the ban on abuse of a dominant market position (Article 5 KartG, Article 102 TFEU).

Potentially damaged parties are households, the industry and companies.

Waste management in Austria

In addition to provisions under European law, the Austrian Waste Management Act (AWG 2002) forms the legal basis for the waste services sector; it regulates waste prevention, recycling, other recovery (e.g. energy recovery) and waste disposal. Additionally, regional laws in the provinces lay down the rules for municipal waste collection, refuse charges and the planning of plants.

The waste management sector is divided into waste collection, waste treatment, waste disposal and recycling. A distinction is also made between municipal waste and company waste, with further sub-segments.

There are about 300 waste management companies in the Austrian market. Apart from some market participants that operate nationally, many are small companies that operate only in their region.

Austria produced appropriately 66.5 million tonnes of waste in 2018, marking an upwards trend compared with previous years. The waste services sector generated total sales of EUR 5.16 billion in 2018, with the six largest companies accounting for approximately EUR 2 billion of that total.