The European Commission (EC) has issued a formal notice to Czechia, urging the country to foster a more competitive environment for waste collection and recovery in its packaging sector.  

The EC informed Czechia that appointing EKO-KOM as the sole company authorised to collect and recover domestic packaging waste for more than 20 years may infringe on the EU’s competition rules. 

An EC investigation was undertaken following a complaint from Czech company REMA AOS, which said it faced barriers when attempting to enter the market. 

Aside from REMA AOS, five other companies also failed to enter the market segment. 

Since the Czech Packaging Act came into effect in 2002, EKO-KOM has been the country’s exclusive operator for packaging waste collection and recovery, serving more than 20,000 businesses, meaning that no other company has been able to secure authorisation for these services.  

The EC’s preliminary findings suggest that the Czech Packaging Act and its enforcement may have erected significant barriers to entry, including stringent authorisation requirements and the ability of EKO-KOM to influence the authorisation process of potential competitors.  

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These barriers have effectively granted EKO-KOM a de facto monopoly for more than two decades. 

The commission said that it believes these state measures created unequal opportunities and placed EKO-KOM in a position of conflict of interest.  

EC executive vice-president of competition policy Margrethe Vestager said: “The Czech market for packaging waste collection and recovery has been dominated by the incumbent operator for more than two decades.  

“We are concerned that Czech measures have prevented entry of rival companies, with a consequent negative impact on prices, quality, innovation and choice. Therefore, we have sent a Letter of Formal Notice to Czechia. Ensuring effective competition is essential for achieving a sustainable and circular economy, one of the main building blocks of the European Green Deal.”