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September 2, 2014

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Twice-a-week trash pickup out, once-a-week recycling pickup in

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Leila Navidi

Todd Korgan stands with his new recycling and garbage bins at his home near downtown Las Vegas on Wednesday, Oct. 26, 2011.

Updated Tuesday, Feb. 5, 2013 | 5:28 p.m.

The Clark County Commission has approved a new single-stream recycling ordinance, bringing big changes in waste pickup for valley residents after years of debate on the issue.

The commission approved the ordinance Tuesday afternoon in a 4-2 vote, with Commissioners Chris Giunchigliani and Lawrence Weekly opposed. The vote was taken after nearly four hours of back-and-forth among commissioners, members of the public and representatives from Republic Services, the county’s trash service provider. Commissioner Tom Collins left the meeting before the final vote because of a prior commitment.

The single-stream recycling program will do away with the red, white and blue bins used by households in unincorporated areas of the county, replacing them with one cart on wheels that will hold all recyclables, no sorting required.

Recycling will be picked up weekly instead of biweekly, although residential trash pickup will be reduced from twice a week to once a week. The new program also includes one biweekly pickup of bulky items that don’t fit in trash carts.

The switch to single-stream recycling will not result in a rate increase and any savings from the program will be used by Republic Services to upgrade its fleet of trucks, said Bob Coyle, Republic Services vice president for government affairs.

Henderson and North Las Vegas both approved similar programs in recent years, and Las Vegas has several pilot programs running.

Tuesday’s meeting drew a strong public response, with more than 50 people sharing their opinions with the commission. Many opposed to the change were Republic Services drivers who worried the single-stream recycling program would lead to a reduction in their work hours.

Homeowners expressed varying views. Those in favor of single-stream recycling, many of whom participated in the pilot program, said it made recycling easier, reduced the amount of trash they generated and kept waste from blowing out of the bins and down the streets on pickup days.

Others fiercely opposed losing a day of trash pickup, worrying about the stench of hot garbage during the summer and the loss of service without a corresponding decrease in costs.

Although commissioners approved the ordinance changes, they delayed action on a related item that would have amended the county’s franchise agreement with Republic Services. The amended agreement is needed before the program can begin.

Before considering the amendment, Commissioner Larry Brown asked that several studies be conducted, including a survey of customers already receiving single-stream recycling and the impact the program will have on Republic Services’ revenues and expense. He also requested that county staff explore a provision and any associated costs that would allow the commission to revert back to the current waste pickup agreement should the single-stream operation fail to boost recycling.

Once those studies are complete in the next month or two, the commission will vote on amending the franchise agreement, which runs until 2035.

“I think we have a great program here and I think it’s the right thing to do from a public policy standpoint,” Brown said.

During the meeting, Giunchigliani said she still had several questions about the single-stream recycling program and wanted further study before changing the ordinance or the franchise agreements.

Giunchigliani said numbers reported to the Southern Nevada Health District, which monitors solid waste in the county, don’t support that single-stream recycling program increases recycling rates as much as Republic Services claims.

“Could we not get an answer to that before we actually adopt the change? Because I think the change still begs the (question) of what the reason for the ordinance is. The premise is that it’s resulted in a significant increase (in recycling). Not by their numbers,” Giunchigliani said. “What’s the rush? … How about asking people ‘Do you want to give up your two days a week trash?’ Nobody ever asked that question.”

Before starting the hearing on the ordinance, Commission Chairman Steve Sisolak addressed a complaint filed Monday with the District Attorney’s Office alleging an open-meetings violation by the commission.

The complaint, made by local attorney Todd Bice, is based on three affidavits by individuals who said Sisolak specifically told them that six votes in favor of the single stream ordinance had already been secured in advance of Tuesday’s meeting.

On Tuesday, Sisolak denied any violation had taken place and said his statements were conjecture based on previous statements made by other commissioners to the media and during previous public discussions on the topic.

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  1. Giunchigliani is concerned about one thing only: the impact on the union members she values over everyone else. There has been debate on this for 10 years or more, and she says don't rush it?!?

    My wife and I greatly prefer the single stream system we have now compared to the bin system where we used to live.

  2. This is a reduction in service without a reduction in rates, pure and simple. While the single-stream recycling is nice, the fact is they are providing you with less service for the same price.

    How is that fair to the tax/rate payers?

  3. kennekra,

    There is actually very little decrease in service if you consider the bulk pick-up that was added.

    Also, the quality of service is MUCH higher with this new system, at least for those who recycle. Even with only once a week trash pick-up we still have plenty of room in our trash bin for yard clippings, etc. And now all our recycles fit in the single container whereas before we would have to stack much of it next to those puny bins they used before.

    This is a very good improvement that can not be measured on the basis of number of pick-ups alone.

  4. As I've said before, the only ones supporting single-stream and paying the same for 1/2 the service, are those (6-10%) already recycling.

    Once there is an uproar from citizens that have no clue what's coming (the vast majority); how much will it cost to switch back?

    I know where my vote will be falling in the next election.

  5. Before moving to NLV, I lived in Northern Virginia and was paying over $30 a month for the same service. Believe me, the $13.74 is a bargain. I have the once a week service and have found it to be very convenient not having to separate my recycling. Biggest issue is to remember which week is the bulk pickup.

  6. I have no space for 2 giant cans I won't use; is there a process to refuse the cans?

    I hope many residents will clog the lines at Republic Services and City Hall when the summer stench ruins your outdoor activities.

  7. Based on the last time this issue was raised, Chris was concerned that Republic was making themselves a new deal (that was better for them and not rate payers) with this plan for single stream recycling. Her reading of the contract with Republic was that they were already supposed to be providing (and they were collecting fees for) single stream recycling with the twice a week trash collection. She was pushing to keep that interpretation or get the savings to be given to customers rather than Republic. If all the commissioners were as conscientious as Chris the county would be a lot better off. I think people who live in other commission districts should ask their commissioners why they stood with Republic and not the voters.

  8. I would much rather see Republic plow any savings back into equipment than constantly ask for higher rates like NV Energy does because we save too much.

    Compare this to what NV Energy did by
    a) replacing our meters with ones that allowed them to eliminate 100s of meter readers,
    b) not reducing our rates to reflect the savings from that,
    c) proposing to charge people significantly more for receiving the SAME service they had before if they switch back to the old meters, and
    d) asking for an INCREASE in rates because we are now using less energy than ever before.

    Republic is acting in a reasonable manner with this. As I said earlier, we are receiving a much higher quality of service at the same price, I won't complain at all about that.

  9. how much is and who gets the cash for the recycled materials?

  10. El_Lobo,

    I am really surprised that you took the stance you did. And even more surprised that you tried using fuzzy math like that.

    Worst case, Republic is going from 5 pick-ups every 2 weeks to 4. That is a 20% reduction, not 50% as you said. But wait, they are adding a bulk pick-up every other week. If that is a separate run then they are back at 5 pick-ups every 2 weeks, same as it was.

    It is very difficult to imagine how any family of 5 or less is being hurt by this change. We are a family of four, plus caring for our grand-daughter 4 or 5 days a week. We have a LOT of trash and recyclables. This was a great boon for us when we moved to an area that was part of the pilot program.

    I would venture to say that the only people who feel they are hurt by this are not recycling to begin with. There is no way that a simple couple is going to fill the standard trash bin up in one week, and anyone who would not overflow the old three bin system with recyclables wasn't using them to begin with.

  11. When I lived in Henderson, I was part of the "test program" (my term). Believe me, it is terrible. My neighbors and I complained until we finally just gave up. The "test" was gonna work, whether we liked it, or not.

  12. Garbage pick up once a week? In Las Vegas? Are those commissioners crazy? And those HOA's aren't going to allow any outside garbage cans either. When I lived there, we had 2x a week pickup and even THEN it was brutal when the temps were 110+ degrees! We had to keep the can in the garage and the inside of the garage smelled like a dump during the very hot summer days.

    The cans in the picture are similar to what is used where I live now. The garbage trucks are all automated and has this huge arm that comes out and picks up the can and dumps it. There is only one man in the truck - the driver. Don't know if Republic has those. I can't remember. The cans are quite large and a lot of garbage fits in them. And they are "wind and racoon proof". But even here with the Midwestern weather - cold - hot and in between - the cans stink! The blue recylce can is smaller and they are emptied manually with pick up every 2 weeks. But, if it is too full, the stuff ends up on the street. And there really is an issue about what Brian_D said - everyone knowing your business including how much beer your drink and what you buy and what you use!!

  13. Stink...and flies.

    This kind of nonsense could only pass in February;
    in July, it would NEVER FLY!

  14. "Although commissioners approved the ordinance changes, they delayed action on a related item that would have amended the county's franchise agreement with Republic Services. The amended agreement is needed before the program can begin."

    Looks like we still have time to prevent this from happening. Write your county commissioner, attend the meetings, and voice your opinion. Hopefully they will see the majority are against this.

  15. There are more economical ways to increase recycling without cutting service or burdening residents.

    Who else saw the documentary on Waste Management. In the late 80's they started realizing value in the waste they were burying. They developed a large volume sorter at the intake. Basically as a truck dumped its load the trash fed down a conveyor belt where 20 or so people picks out large items. It then fed into a chipper and into a trough of water; the sinking items went one way and the floating items another. The sinking items then pass under an industrial magnet pulling out all the ferrous metals. By the end of the process 80% of recyclables are recovered; much higher than any consumer sorting program. AND the program at Waste Management pays for itself PLUS some in the value of the recyclables they sell.

  16. boftx: "Worst case, Republic is going from 5 pick-ups every 2 weeks to 4. That is a 20% reduction, not 50% as you said. But wait, they are adding a bulk pick-up every other week. If that is a separate run then they are back at 5 pick-ups every 2 weeks, same as it was."

    For someone already recycling that may be true. For those that don't recyle, we lost 1/2 of our service.

  17. The Commission needs to get OFF DEAD CENTER and demand that Republic reduce noise pollution. Those trucks are devaluing the quality of life so much. Vegas is still a 24-hour town where people are trying to sleep during trash pickups. Kids, pets, tourists, adults can be startled repeatedly by sudden loud noises as the truck compactors are set off. DO SOMETHING. Fewer pickups is good. Once a month works for me. Commission/Republic: think technology--MUFFLED equipment now.

  18. Here desert_eagle is the proof the MAJORITY do not recycle even with single-stream: http://www.lasvegassun.com/news/2011/oct...

    "Just 3 percent of Republic Services' customers recycle their plastics, cans and paper, according to the trash hauler.

    But some Southern Nevadans -- about 84,000 Republic customers -- recycle at 10 times that rate.

    The difference between the 3 percent and 30 percent recyclers? Whether they have to sort their recyclables into three bins or are able to put them in a single container, sometimes called single-stream recycling."

  19. "Recycling" is a red herring excuse to increase profits to Republic. Neither it nor the County is serious about recycling. If they were, we would have mass recycling at the dump site or another processing location, where more than 75% of waste could be recovered, as in other places in the world. Republic has never been happy with the contract they bought voluntarily, so why not put it up for bid? There are collectors that would be happy to subject the entire garbage stream to recycling without subjecting customers to the inconvenience and inefficiency. Republic is able to pay for it from its previous covert reductions of service (e.g., from 30 bags per week to 10 and now to the equivalent of 5), reductions in residencial tonnage, and drastic increases in commercial rates, but won't because of its sweetheart monopoly contract awarded for nothing it return. As usual, the County gives public assets to its cronies and special interests, while giving the citizens nothing in return--except the bill!

  20. kvg2009,

    If you are currently recycling "to the max" using those three colored bins you will appreciate the change to a single, larger container.

    At least in our neighborhood, we have not noticed any problems related to heat in the summer. If anything, it is a lot cleaner because the new containers have good lids and there is far less trash blowing around. Recycle day always resulted in a mess with the three bins for somebody.

    By the way, we also have dogs, and a grandbaby who lived with us while in diapers. It simply isn't a problem.

    And, Jeff, seriously? I'm arguing in favor of having it easier for people to recycle and you're going to bust my chops? :) On the other hand, I am dead set against the plan to bring back deposits on bottles and cans since we already recycle and having take our empties to a collection point would be a hassle, to say the least.

  21. I found that I have more recycling than I have trash every week. As far as the odor, just tape a car air freshener to the inside of the can reduces the odor.

    Roberta - Reducing from two days to one will reduce the level of noise pollution. I have worked all shifts at one point or another. I found that the trash truck with less offensive than the kids yelling outside while playing.

    Everyone wishes to complain about recycling. Wait until the landfill gets full and the county has to increase the rates to build a new one. Then you will get everyone complaining about where to place the landfill. So recycle and save the planet!

  22. I have to give Roslenda credit.

    There is not a day or subject that she can't find something to complain about.

    Must be a hard life being her.

    A couple minutes of noise each week is ruining her life.

  23. Just think if this was 100 years ago - The commissioners are discussing about requiring inside plumbing. People would be complaining about having to bring the outhouse inside.