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Landmark decision: Commercial waste paper collectors successful with FGvW against waste management authorities before the Federal Administrative Court

Public waste management authorities may not prohibit the activities of commercial waste collectors if, in the opinion of the authorities, they have not provided sufficient information on, among other things, turnover in accordance with Section 18 of the Recycling Management Act (Kreislaufwirtschaftsgesetz - KrWG). This was decided by the Federal Administrative Court in a landmark ruling (ref.: 7 C 14.17, 7 C 15.17 and 7 C 16.17). The judges granted the appeals in three proceedings against injunctions of the authorities in the administrative district of Burgenlandkreis and restored the corresponding judgments of the Administrative Court Halle of March 25, 2014 (ref.: 2 A 207/13, 2 A 206/13 and 2 A 200/13).

The action was brought by three entrepreneurs who operated collection points for waste paper and used clothing and bought paper and cardboard from private individuals. After the Recycling Management Act came into force, the companies notified the commercial - stationary and mobile - collection of waste paper and used clothing and provided information in accordance with Section 18 (2) KrWG. However, the companies only partially complied with the request of the waste management authority to supplement and specify their information, including on annual turnover, on the roads used and on the recycling routes. As a result, the waste management authority prohibited the plaintiffs from collecting waste paper, cardboard and paperboard from private households.

The companies filed suit against the injunctions and were successful before the Administrative Court in Halle. In the appeal proceedings of the Burgenlandkreis, the district administration and the waste disposal association, the Higher Administrative Court of Saxony-Anhalt then decided on March 17, 2016 that the prohibition orders were lawful and dismissed the actions. However, the Federal Administrative Court, after oral proceedings on January 24, 219, set aside the rulings of the Higher Administrative Court now and restored the rulings of the Halle Administrative Court in favor of the three commercial collectors.

The rulings of the Federal Administrative Court are of fundamental importance for the ongoing disputes between public waste management bodies and commercial waste collectors. The Federal Administrative Court rejected the exaggerated requirements of the public waste management authorities with regard to the duty of disclosure. Thus, the duty of disclosure under Section 18 (2) KrWG would not be violated if, for example, the companies did not provide any information on annual sales.

The commercial waste management companies Peter Bär, Joachim Buschmann and Karola Schulz were advised and represented throughout the proceedings by our Cologne partner Olaf Konzak and his team, who specialize in advising on public law, environmental law and waste management law.

Olaf Konzak

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