Clark County OKs single-stream recycling in unincorporated areas

Clark County residents will soon follow the lead of other valley residents who have one trash and one recycle bin pickup each week.

County commissioners approved a plan Tuesday that allows curbside single-stream recycling in unincorporated areas.

They made the decision despite concerns by a union and two commissioners that the change, which eliminates a second trash pickup each week, could bring worker layoffs and cut work hours.

The county has a franchise agreement with Republic Services for trash removal that was amended to reflect the changes.

The move will affect about 210,000 households. Now, customers have trash pickup two times a week and recycling pickup once every two weeks with three crates that require sorting.

With the change, customers will get two 96-gallon carts, one for recycling and the other for trash. Trash and recyclables will be picked up once a week, on the same day. Bulky items will be picked up once every other week under the plan.

But first Republic Services needs to build another facility for handling the recyclables in North Las Vegas.

The change won’t cost customers higher rates.

Residents won’t be getting the new containers until late 2015 or early 2016, said Bob Coyle, vice president of public affairs and government relations at Republic Services.

The move wasn’t without debate. Tuesday’s vote was 5-2, with Commissioners Chris Giunchigliani and Lawrence Weekly opposed.

Those votes came in part from concerns about the impact on workers at the company and worries about lost jobs.

Commissioners heard from Tommy Blitsch, secretary-treasurer of the Teamsters Local 631, which represents about 1,000 employees of Republic Services. The company has about 350 clerical, supervisory and administrative staff not in the union.

Blitsch expressed concerns about unknowns from the changes that might hurt workers, including layoffs and reduced hours.

No one really knows the full impact, Blitsch said.

Coyle stressed that layoffs aren’t part of the plan. He added that reductions in hours are possible.

“We have to manage the people to the business,” he said.

Giunchigliani, a recycler since 1981, isn’t opposed to recycling but has concerns about lost jobs. She also noted that the change is one that reduces some services the county receives from the franchise agreement, which includes the twice-weekly trash pickup.

Single-stream recycling is already in place in North Las Vegas and most of Henderson. The city of Las Vegas is also looking at the move. Coyle said he anticipates giving a presentation to the city in early 2014.

Contact reporter Ben Botkin at bbotkin@reviewjournal.com or 702-405-9781. Follow him on Twitter @BenBotkin1.