Acquisition of City Bin Co by Thorntons Recycling approved by competition regulator

Thorntons has made a number of legally binding commitments to get the deal across the line

The acquisition of waste collection company The City Bin Co by rival Thorntons Recycling has been cleared by the Competition and Consumer Protection Commission (CCPC), subject to a number of legally binding commitments.

Thorntons agreed terms to take over The City Bin company last summer but subsequently withdrew its acquisition proposal to the competition watchdog before resubmitting the plan last December. That second notification culminated in a full CCPC investigation which has now concluded, allowing Padraig Thornton Waste Disposal Limited, which trades as Thorntons Recycling, to take over Carducci Holdings DAC, which controls The City Bin Co.

Thorntons Recycling is a commercial and residential waste and recycling business, primarily active in Dublin, Meath, Kildare and Wicklow, with more than 80,000 customers. Meanwhile The City Bin Co provides waste collection services to around 50,000 domestic and commercial customers in Galway and Dublin.

Last December, both companies separately raised their waste collection prices, citing increased costs amid soaring energy bills.

READ MORE

In the course of its analysis, the CCPC identified potential competition concerns that following this acquisition some households in Co Dublin, where Thorntons Recycling and The City Bin Co are both active, could have less choice, increased prices and diminished quality of domestic waste collection services.

Thorntons Recycling proposed a number of binding commitments to the CCPC. These include a commitment to divest certain numbers of domestic waste customers located within the areas serviced by both Thorntons Recycling and The City Bin Co to a suitable purchaser, who will continue to provide domestic waste collection services to those customers. The purchaser will be subject to the CCPC’s approval, and an independent monitoring trustee is to be appointed to ensure compliance with these commitments.

Taking Thorntons Recycling’s commitments into account, the CCPC announced on Thursday that the acquisition can be put into effect, and determined that it will not substantially lessen competition.

In its announcement, the CCPC noted that waste collection services have unique characteristics which could encourage market consolidation, reducing the number of competitors.

The commission said that without intervention, this means consumers may have little or no power to influence the behaviour of operators in this market by, for example, switching.

The CCPC reiterated the view expressed in its 2018 report on the household waste collection market, that an economic regulator needs to be established for the sector, with responsibilities including market design.

Ellen O'Regan

Ellen O’Regan

Ellen O’Regan is a former Irish Times journalist.