Battle Over Trash: Bochum Defends Municipal Recycling Bin with Heuking Kühn Lüer Wojtek

The City of Bochum, together with law firm Heuking Kühn Lüer Wojtek, fought successfully for an important decision before the Arnsberg Public Procurement Complaint Board. Bochum may collect recyclable material such as plastic toys or metal objects in the “yellow bin.” Private waste disposal company Remondis had unsuccessfully attempted to prevent the introduction of this “municipal recycling bin” before the Arnsberg Public Procurement Complaint Board.

Municipal company Umweltservice Bochum GmbH (USB) has handled waste disposal in Bochum since 1994. Remondis had asserted that the bid for the introduction of the “municipal recycling bin” should nevertheless have been advertised separately since the additional costs exceeded the EU threshold value.

With the assistance of Dr. Ute Jasper and Dr. Jan Seidel from Heuking Kühn Lüer Wojtek, the City of Bochum defended the pilot project, which has received nationwide attention. The Arnsberg Public Procurement Complaint Board (Ruling of February 02, 2011 - VK 27/10) does not consider separate bidding necessary despite the additional costs. "The Arnsberg Public Procurement Complaint Board correctly clarified that the small additional amounts are of no consequence compared to the total waste disposal in Bochum," Dr. Ute Jasper explained. "It thereby creates legal certainty for long-term contracts. If one were to focus only on the EU threshold value, a long-term privatization of public functions would not be possible,“ Dr. Ute Jasper continued.

The dispute is part of a basic conflict between private waste management companies and municipalities. "By 2015, recyclable material, which the municipalities have disposed of up to now with residual waste, will have to be collected and disposed of separately," Dr. Jan Seidel added. "Many municipalities want to collect this recyclable material jointly with the waste of the “yellow bin” - the private system operators are responsible for the latter, however. This raises the question to whom does the waste belong." Given scarce resources and rising commodity prices, this question will also have a significant economic impact for the future.

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