On 31 July 2013, the ACCC granted authorisation to the Wollongong and Shellharbour city councils to allow them to jointly tender and contract for waste collection services and the processing of recyclable material.
Authorisation provides statutory protection from court action for conduct that might otherwise contravene the competition provisions of the CCA, in this instance the cartel conduct prohibitions. Broadly, the ACCC may grant an authorisation when it is satisfied that the public benefit from the conduct outweighs any public detriment. In this case, the public benefits claimed were significant transactional cost savings for the city councils and operational cost savings for the processor. Further, the ACCC considered that each of the regions affected would not justify a stand-alone processing facility.
The authorisation has been granted for a period of 15 years to allow the development of the necessary processing plant and the opportunity to recoup the capital expenditure necessary to support the project. The final determination follows a proposed approval draft determination given on 26 June and is in line with other recent authorisation decisions granted for similar behaviour by other councils.