Nevada Public Radio Listen Live

"Morning Edition"
Facebook Twitter Follow Nevada Public Radio

Support Nevada Public Radio
KNPR's State of Nevada About SON Archives Participate Specials

Recycling Roadblocks in Clark County
Recycling Roadblocks in Clark County

AIR DATE: February 7, 2011

Republic Services is trying to implement a recycling pick-up program in Clark County. It claims it's already had success with trial programs in Henderson. But that means switching to once-a-week pick-up, and some local residents (including a Clark County Commissioner) don't want to give up the twice-a-week system. What options does the trash service have? Are Las Vegans culturally averse to recycling? And compared to cities like San Francisco and Seattle, why is it taking so long to adopt a solid recycling program?

Chris Giunchigliani, Clark County Commissioner
Bob Coyle, VP, Republic Services
John Taylor, Govt Relations Mgr, CleanScapes in Seattle

comments powered by Disqus
We are in the pilot program in North Las Vegas. We absolutely love the program. We save everything now and feel so good about recycling. We have 1/4 of the garbage trash that we had previously. The one day per week pick up suits our needs perfectly. Recycling should be mandatory as I think one of the comments mentioned. We must save our resources. After we began the program, we became aware of all of the things that we had previously been dumping in the trash. I hope that we can continue this program.
Charlotte and Fred LeasFeb 8, 2011 09:18:18 AM
I believe recycling should be mandatory or be fined. Education is a waste of time--You either care or you don't. Hope your containers are recyclable? What about turf and palm trees made of plastic? Gads. Also, it's too complicated dealing with toxic stuff--different places at different times. Like to see pickup of paint, batteries and PCs, etc. at certain times each month or whenever. Have garden and bury kitchen trimmings. Worms like it. No need for mulch--tell that to Lynn Mills. What about incineration for useful energy? Heard something about that in California? P.S. Stuff is segregated within the recycle vehicles.
CarolFeb 4, 2011 21:32:04 PM
My question is for the communities that are non HOA, non-gated communities and non-apartment dwellings. I was recycling for a little while only to find out that all my hard work was going to scavengers. People who are living in homes who walk around with shopping carts who take other people's recycling, turn it in and make a profit. They can make an upwards of $70 a day doing that. What are YOU going to do to remedy THAT situation? I worked hard to put all my recycling together, but I'll be damned if I'm going to do it for someone else's welfare. My husband is very against it because of that fact.

When I lived in West Hollywood, their recycling program was superior in the fact that if ANY scavenger was caught STEELING other people's recycling, it would be punishable by law with fines up to $1000. AND THEY ENFORCE IT! We are too lax here when it comes to enforcement and education when it comes to littering, recycling and cleaning up the streets. West Hollywood has no trash problems. Why? Enforcement. Simple.

Give the public free containers along with a guide on trash, recycling and rules of the practice. If not implemented, fine 'em. Regardless, there'll be a profit.

Samantha DixonFeb 4, 2011 09:39:26 AM
I watch the recycling truck pick up from my three sorted containers and he dumps all three in the same into the same bin. Why should I sort recyclables? In addition, it gets too hot here to keep garbage for a whole week! Bottom line is Republic Services just wants to cut costs on their end and make more profits!
John BorroganFeb 4, 2011 09:36:56 AM
Dear Mr. Borrogan, Republic Services was asked to implement these programs by the Clark County Commission on August 21, 2007. We are willing to provide what ever service level each of the cities and county wants. In the new pilot programs there is no longer a need to sort recyclables. Republic provides each residence with a large wheeled cart for trash and a large wheeled cart for recycling. You can just throw all of your recyclable materials into the recycling cart without sorting them. It does get hot in Las Vegas. It also gets hot in Tucson, Phoenix, Dallas, Houston, San Antonio, Fresno, Sacramento, El Paso, Fort Worth, Tempe, Austin and Glendale. These were the cities that Clark county surveyed that all have 1x trash and 1x recycling and that have recycling rates that are substantially higher than Clark County. In each of these cities trash and recycling services ranked very high when the city did customer sdatisfaction surveys
Bob CoyleFeb 4, 2011 14:09:53 PM
No one is talking about the recycling that isn't happening here -- yard waste pickup! They are talking with someone from Seattle, where I used to live, and there they had garbage pickup, recycling pickup AND yard waste pickup. I was informed by Republic Services that yard waste was NOT ALLOWED in the new garbage cans (we are on the pilot program in Henderson) and that we must put out our yard waste on the every two week bulk pickup day. So far, it has failed to be picked up on those days, it just sits there, despite the stringent guidelines on size and bundling. The old garbage pickup took everything, and now we are seriously restricted in what we can get rid of. The woman at Republic Services suggested I take the yard waste to the dump myself, but with a good sized yard and lots of trees and some grass, there is way too much for that to fit the back of my Camry. I like the bigger recycling bin, but no one mentions about the lack of yard waste pickup and mulching of yard waste, which they should also be doing.
Megan Feb 4, 2011 09:34:16 AM
Dear Megan, The reaosn we do not collect green waste separately in the pilot programs is that there is no market for composting in the Clark County area. The closest outlet for residential greenwaste is the San Joaquin Valley in California because of the agricultural fields. Unfortunately the cost of collecting green waste separately and then transporting it to California would cause a significant cost increase as well as an increase in green house gases that makes it ineffective. You can put your green waste in your trash cart for collection or bag or bundle it and put it out for collection on your bulky item collection day every other week. If you have any problems with your bulky item collection service please feel free to call me on my direct number at 599-5501 and I will correct the problem.
Bob CoyleFeb 4, 2011 14:16:28 PM
Chris G. is totally right about this issue. Republic (and Silver State before) have just been trucking the money out of Clark County. Both have gotten huge gifts from government officials (especially McDonald and Jay Bingham) for the last several decades.

Republic has objected to its contract constantly ever since it bought out Silver State (whose officials ended up in jail for the way they ran the company). They use highly paid and influential attorneys who are connected to politicians like the two above. Mr. Coyle is being very ingenuous: Republic is not just imposing cost of living adjustments: he dropped collection from 15 bags to 5 at one time (equivalent to a 300% hike); he increased the charges for receiving trash as the collecting points by about 30% in one year; he changed the method of calculating how much a person pays (from the amount of trash being dumped to the total volume of the truck being used--whether or not it is full or half empty).

He compares the costs of trash collection in other cities, but fails to mention the multi-billion dollar gift of the best dumping site in the US by Clark County. This gives Republic a huge cost advantage over any city.

ed uehlingFeb 4, 2011 09:30:55 AM
I can appreciate the Commissioner and also Republic Services considering what the general public would say and feel about changing and implementing recycling services and also cutting down or keeping the trash pick up schedule. I feel that the general public must realize that recycling is not a chore but something that we must all do in order to protect mother earth. We have become too lazy. My 7 yr old is the "Recycling Police" around my home :) Why is it that a 7 yr old is more conscious about our world today than a 30 year old adult?
SteveFeb 4, 2011 09:30:38 AM
Giving residents more recycling capacity is NOT a reduction in service it is an increase. It is a simple replacement of recycle bins for trash bins.

If this is Chris G's only argument then she is very short sited. Who is she speaking for? I spend a lot of time in the community educating residents about sustainability and have yet to hear anyone say they don't want to recycle. They are just looking for a more convenient, effective way to do it.

The missing components are
1. education
2. direction
3. commitment This shouldn't be a political decision. ps - Phoenix is as hot as Vegas and they have one and one.

Heather aka GoingGreen Girl Feb 4, 2011 09:26:10 AM
I completely agree with Going Green Girl's comments. This should not be such a political issue. Regardless of the past, we need to look forward towards the future and how we can increase recycling for our communities and environment! The fact is the new recycling pilot programs are more efficient, cost effective, keeps communities cleaner and will increase our valley wide recycling rates. Most city's across the U.S. have once a week trash and once a week recycling. The recycling service Republic Service's is offering appears to be the ONLY viable option!!
CourtneyFeb 4, 2011 11:41:51 AM
I agree with Going Green Girl's comments. this is not a political issue. This is a survivl issue for our environment and planet.
Charlotte LeasFeb 8, 2011 09:21:20 AM
I'm an avid recycler and once every two weeks is not frequent enough for pick-up. From our own household of four, we generate very little trash, and much more recyclables. I think there's an opportunity to take a page from the Water District's book - in how they affected changes in the valley-wide watering schedule. Education as to WHY recycling is important and HOW easy it is to do can help bring about positive change.
Kathy CallahanFeb 4, 2011 09:22:10 AM
Not only do customers need training, the trash collectors need it too. Last recycle day, the regular trash guys picked up my recyclables (crushed boxes, rolled plastic sheets). When he picked up the recycle bin, he thought twice and put it back on the curb.
I would appreciate weekly recycle pickup as would most of our neighbors. Great idea. Not sure who Chris G. has been talking too but it wasn't anyone around here.

Justine HancockFeb 4, 2011 09:21:59 AM
Please clear ups some recycling concerns:

I. I was told that envelopes should not be recycled because of the glue on them. True?

2. Instructions say to remove the tops of plastic bottles. Should the tops be thrown in the trash or just included in the bin?

3. Why do my carefully segregated items get mixed up in one bin on the truck? Who segregates the items for a second time? How many employees are involved in segregating these items?

4. What items get put in recycle bins that should be put in the trash?

MikeFeb 4, 2011 09:21:47 AM
Dear Mike, Envelopes can be recycled and are recycled as mixed office paper. There is no problem with the glue on the evelopes. Plastics recyclers are now able to recycle the plastic bottls caps. There is no need to remove the plastic caps from the bottles. We have spent approximately $5.5 million to upgrade our recycling facility over the last 5 years and will be doing another $1.8 million upgrade in 2011 adding additional equipment that will increase the productivity at the Republic Services recycling center. We have increased productivity from about 10 tons per hour in 2007 to between 25 and 30 tons per hour currently. There are approximately 110 employees at the recycling center. The biggest issue with materials placed in the recycling containers is food waste. If a pizza box is free of stuck cheese it is fine in the recycling but if it has a lot of food stuck to the cardboard it should be put in the trash. In general we have less than 10% residue (materials that we can't recycle) in our residential recycling materials that is sent to the landfill.
Bob CoyleFeb 4, 2011 15:26:11 PM
I moved to North Las Vegas 2 years ago. We started recycling with the 3 crates and it was miserable. They were not large enough so on windy days the recycling would blow all over the neighborhood. We were recently added to the pilot program with the once a week service and the roll-away containers. My family loves this program! The containers are big enough that once a week collection is plenty. The neighborhood is cleaner because recycling is not blown around. Please keep this program up!
Patricia TempleFeb 4, 2011 09:21:19 AM
Our weekly trash service has been fine during the cooler months. Perhaps a split year, with twice-weekly pick-up during the summer months and weekly pick-up during the cooler months would work better. Fetid trash is a horrible smell to contain within a garage area. We are prohibited by HOA rules from keeping the bins outside. As for recycling, the larger bins are fabulous. This is a service for which we should pay an extra fee. Reducing the amount of debris taken to the landfill helps all of us.
Marsha SnowdonFeb 4, 2011 09:18:18 AM
Dear Ms. Snowdon, Unfortunately providing twice per week trash collection during the summer and once per week collection during the cooler months would not be cost effective. Every spring we would need to recruite and train new employees who would work for the summer and then would be laid off in the winter and the following spring we would be hiring new employees again. We would also need to have more trucks for the summer that would then just sit for six months of the year but would still need to be paid for in the rates that we charge to residents. It simply would not be cost effective.
Bob CoyleFeb 4, 2011 15:31:13 PM
I moved to Las Vegas from Baltimore about two years ago, and was surprised that recycling wasn't a mandatory municipal service. We drive our recycling about a mile away to UNLV, which has a recycling operation in one of the northern parking lots.

It's shocking to see the kinds of things that I see my neighbors throwing into our dumpster. Anything from readily recyclable material to hazardous appliances, televisions, computers, etc.

David HardyFeb 4, 2011 09:10:47 AM
Web hosting facilities provided by Switch.