- Last week, state legislators held a hearing on a bill (SB315) that could bring major changes to Nevada's waste industry. Key points include a 25% diversion rate mandate, new reporting and pricing controls on landfill fees and the prohibition of new commercial franchise agreements, as reported by The Nevada Independent.
- At the March 30 hearing, representatives from both Waste Management and Republic Services testified against the bill. They argued that these restrictions could increase prices for customers and said that if the current system was anti-competitive, they wouldn't still have competitors, as reported by the Reno Gazette-Journal.
- The bill's sponsors sped up their original timetable to hold the hearing ahead of a potential vote by the Las Vegas City Council this week to extend the city's contract with Republic Services. The current contract doesn't expire until 2021, but the company has said that a new deal will need to be finalized sooner if the city wants to switch to single-stream recycling. The proposed contract would establish single-stream by the end of next year and run until 2033, as reported by the Las Vegas Review-Journal.
This bill is the latest in a series of efforts by smaller companies to claim larger shares from the nation's two largest operators. Republic has had franchise contracts in Las Vegas, North Las Vegas, Henderson and Clark County for many years. Waste Management has a similarly dominant position in the Reno market. Both companies have faced unsuccessful complaints over limiting competition through various methods in the past, though not with this degree of prominence at the state level.
Unlike the proposals on controlling landfill fees and limiting franchise agreements, the bill's recycling goals could be a potential point of agreement. Nevada has had a 25% diversion rate goal since 1991, though rarely achieved it. This bill would require counties with populations of 100,000 or more — currently two out of 16 — to start providing regular reports and establish a new state council to address recycling efforts.
As this statewide discussion continues, the Las Vegas City Council is still set to vote on a contract with Republic that would include higher diversion rate targets among other new financial conditions. Some local residents have called for an open bidding process or at least a delay until the potential effects of SB315 are addressed. Meanwhile, efforts continue to implement franchise systems with higher diversion rate targets in Los Angeles and New York, showing the local complexities from city to city.