I raise an issue brought to my attention by a company, Leaf Environmental Limited, which has been frustrated in its attempt to get a licence to compete in the waste management sector. There is a general issue to be addressed in this area because Repak has a monopoly. That may not be Repak's fault but it creates a difficulty for consumers in this area, especially small businesses. Leaf's representations to me suggest that its applications in this area have been bureaucratically frustrated in a verbal communication by the Minister's Department and it has difficulty getting into this sector. It is at a loss to understand why Repak has a monopoly. What are the guidelines for applications for a licence or ministerial approval? What are the timescales for those applying? What are the restrictions and why are there bars to entry? Why can there not be a free-for-all in this area? Is it a healthy situation that Repak dominates this area?
There already is a precedent for competition in the electrical and electronic waste sector between WEEE Ireland and the European Recycling Platform. There is no reason why there should not be unfettered competition in this area. Although there may have not been too many applications, there has only been one licence refusal for a company in the waste compliance area, the reasons for which are not publically known. The broad principle is that any obstacles to smaller companies getting into this area are bound willy-nilly to be anti-consumer. If Repak is allowed to set its own prices, it will inevitably set prices which could involve profiteering. I am not suggesting this is happening but the area is open to profiteering if one company dominates the sector. If there are obstructions, what will the Minister do to remove them? Will he look benignly on applications, provided they meet existing regulations?