Each European generates 475kg of municipal waste per year, ranging from 759kg per capita in Denmark to 272kg in Poland and Romania. In the past years, the total amount of this waste that goes to landfills has fallen, but it is still high at 131kg per person. This means that a significant amount of potential secondary raw materials such as metals, wood, glass, paper and plastics end up in landfills. More efficient procurement of waste management services can help to maximise recycling, which accounts for only 136kg of municipal waste today. The collection and treatment of waste generated by households, shops, restaurants, etc. (so-called municipal solid waste) is also an important economic sector providing employment for 850 000 people in Europe. About 42 000 enterprises are active in waste management, out of which over 60% are SMEs. The rest are mainly semi-public entities (including Public Private Partnerships), as well as a small number of large multinational companies.
Public authorities manage municipal solid waste through the award of contracts
The collection and treatment of municipal solid waste (MSW) is managed by local authorities (mainly municipalities), either in-house or through procurement, which is handled differently across EU countries. Out of the yearly 3000 contracts awarded through TED (€4.7 billion p.a. for tenders published at EU level) by municipalities, their associations or regions, about 80% concern services (collection, treatment), 15% works (infrastructure such as incinerators) and 5% supplies (vehicles, containers). The average contract length is about three years and the average contract value is almost €2 million. 88% of contracts are awarded under fair and transparent tenders open to all interested companies. However, there is very little cross-border procurement and only three EU countries (United Kingdom, Italy and France) represent around 70% of all published tenders on waste collection and treatment.
Waste-specific challenges in public procurement
Municipalities face some waste-specific challenges which make it difficult for them to obtain the best value for public money:
Some countries/regions have moved to outsource waste management tasks, while in others the reverse trend can be observed with the 'remunicipalisation' of MSW. Market concentration in the waste sector is growing with this trend towards vertical and horizontal integration of collection and treatment facilities.
With illegal shipment, treatment and disposal with links to instances of corruption, there is still a significant risk of crime in the waste management sector.
Best practice identified to overcome problems in waste procurement
A good example of supporting professionalisation in waste procurement is the Scottish "Sustainable Procurement – Waste Management" e-training to facilitate sustainable procurement of waste management services.
The Good practice template ITT and Service Specification for Resource Efficient Waste Management operations by Zero Waste Scotland helps to reducing administrative burden for buyers.
RECO Baltic 21 Tech is a flagship project in the EU Baltic Strategy to improve waste management in the Baltic Sea Region finished in 2013. The main results were a Baltic Waste Investment Concept and a Joint Strategy including 18 pilot projects. The Guidelines for Public Procurement in Municipal Waste Management include a proposal to implement MEAT evaluation models for waste procurement.
Since 18 April 2016, new opportunities for more effective procurement have been opened up by new EU public procurement legislation, such as the option to purchase innovative solutions, to centralise purchasing, and to do joint cross-border and joint EU-wide procurement.