Revolution in the communal waste management system

An amendment to the Act on Maintaining Cleanliness and Order in Communes which goes into effect in Poland on 1 January 2012 is expected to revolutionise the current system for communal waste management by local governments.

On 15 July 2011 the President of Poland signed an amendment into law which imposes new requirements on communes with respect to selection of entities responsible for collecting and managing communal waste, as well as requirements for construction, maintenance and operation of communal waste processing facilities.

Under the new regulations, communes are required to assume duties connected with collection of communal waste from residents. However, businesses providing services of collection (or collection and management) of communal waste will be selected by the commune solely through tenders under the procedure provided in the Public Procurement Law. Significantly, companies in which the commune holds an ownership stake will have to seek contracts for collection of communal waste under the same rules as other companies.

Generally, there will be a single entity providing communal waste collection services within the territory of a single commune. However, under Art. 6d(2) and (3) of the amending act, a commune with a population over 10,000 may adopt a resolution dividing the commune into sectors, in which case tenders for collection (or collection and management) of communal waste will be organised separately for each sector.

Communes will also be required to construct, maintain and operate regional waste processing facilities. The entity that is to build, maintain or operate a waste processing facility may be selected by the commune under the procedure provided by the Public Procurement Law, the Public-Private Partnership Act, or the Act on Concessions for Construction Works and Services. Nonetheless, it will be permissible for the commune itself to perform tasks involving construction, maintenance and operation of a regional waste processing facility if the contractor is not selected under any of these listed procedures.

The amendment goes into effect on 1 January 2012. It will be a difficult task for communes to achieve compliance with the new requirements so quickly, because they will have to prepare thoroughly to carry out the procedures for selection of entities to provide services involving construction, maintenance and operation of regional waste processing facilities or collection of communal waste. Any delay in carrying out the requirements imposed by the act may have negative consequences for achievement of the target levels set by Polish and EU regulations for limiting the quantities of biodegradable communal waste shipped to landfills. This could in turn result in fines being imposed on Poland by the European Commission.

Infrastructure, Transport and Public Procurement (PPP) practice, Wardyński & Partners