Several Nevada legislators introduced a bill Friday that a group of four waste-management companies helped write.
They say the measure, Senate Bill 315, would allow companies to more fairly compete in the solid-waste industry.
Nevada State Sens. Patricia Farley, Mo Denis and Yvanna Cancela along with Assemblyman Edgar Flores introduced the measure that, if passed, would:
— Limit the amount that a franchisee may charge certain persons for the disposal of construction and demolition waste.
— Mandate that certain counties divert at least 25 percent of solid waste to recycling or composting facilities.
— Prevent a single company from managing all of a municipality’s commercial recycling.
The companies maintain that Republic Services in Southern Nevada and Waste Management in Northern Nevada use their exclusive franchise agreements to curb competition.
Las Vegas-based A Track Out Solution, Las Vegas-based Lunas Construction Clean-Up, Reno-based Nevada Recycling And Salvage, and Reno-based Green Solutions Recycling hired Reno-based Argentum Partners to pursue the legislation.
“In Southern Nevada, we went to all the local governments — the county, the cities — and asked them to help regarding the unfair practices of tipping fees, and they all had the same response. ‘There’s nothing we can do. It’s a state issue.’ So, the four of us got together and hired a lobbying firm and went to the state,” said Chris Darling, manager at A Track Out Solution.
“The language in this bill will directly resolve the issues that all four of our companies have,” Darling said.
Tim Oudman, market vice president of Republic Services, said, “We are currently analyzing the bill.”
A LEVEL PLAYING FIELD
In addition to holding an exclusive franchise agreement, Republic Services and Waste Management also own and operate the only municipal solid waste landfills in those areas. Darling has long spoken out against the ability of his competitor to charge whatever it wants to others dumping waste into its landfill.
“(Their prices) shouldn’t vary on how they feel that day, or if they are competitively bidding for a certain job,” Farley said. “What’s good for them is good for everybody else.”
The bill would require the franchisees to file their effective average dumping fee monthly with the State Environmental Commission, and the commission would ensure that the rates stay around those same levels regardless of who, such as a franchisee competitor, is dumping waste.
“The government isn’t telling what RS (Republic Services) can charge. RS can set their rates and they will moving forward. The state is simply making a calculation based on RS’s bids … so that everyone gets the same per ton disposal rate at the landfill,” said Argentum Partners’ Mike Draper, who drafted the legislation. “We are trying to ensure that RS isn’t picking winners and losers.”
The recycling mandate will boost recycling and hold the state accountable to meet its goals, Draper said.
The Legislature set a 25 percent recycling goal for the state in 1991.
“That bill tasked the Nevada Department of Environmental Protection with overseeing the recycling program. Unfortunately, because it is a goal and not a mandate and NDEP wasn’t given any kind of enforcement authority over it, the state has only met that goal three times in 25 years,” Draper said, adding that the bill also sets a new goal of 35 percent landfill diversion.
With SB315, the department would have the power to require counties to report their recycling numbers and form the regulations they would need to enforce the mandate.
“We’ve been collecting curbside and even commercial recycling and we’ve been paying the associated fees, and for some reason we haven’t even come close to meeting our goals,” Farley said. “Until now, there hasn’t been a carrot or stick to recycle.” Farley said.
The bill will have to make its way through both chambers before it passes. Farley said the bill will be scheduled for a hearing sometime next week.
Draper and his team have also launched a “Don’t Waste Nevada” Facebook page and website to raise awareness about the bill.
Dennis and Spearman and Flores could not be reached for comment.