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County Commission Attaches Strings to Expanded Recycling Program

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(photo- KXNT SamStone) Employees of Republic Services turned out at the county commission chambers to oppose changes to trash pickup

(photo- KXNT SamStone) Employees of Republic Services turned out at the county commission chambers to oppose changes to trash pickup

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Las Vegas CBS KXNT- The Clark County Commission passed a proposal on Tuesday that would implement single-stream recycling with weekly pickup, and would cut back regular trash pickup to once a week. Single-stream recycling means the resident is not required to sort the materials into several recycling bins, but deposits the discarded items into a single bin, to be sorted after collection.

The commission put conditions on the approval. The service provider, Republic Services, will be required to submit updated statistics on recycling activity in the valley, and to conduct a customer satisfaction survey of residents in Henderson and North Las Vegas who are already living with the expanded recycling program. In addition, the commission reserved the right to revert to the current system if it decides at a future date that residents would be better served by going back to twice-weekly trash pickups.

Republic says single-stream encourages recycling by making it easier for the customer.

The proposal faced vigorous opposition from Republic employees, who are members of the Teamsters Union. Dozens of workers testified that the company will require fewer of them to man the new trucks the recycling program employs. Many said their hours had already been cut as a result of the increased focus on recycling.

Some said the proposed change is calculated to cut costs by cutting the number of workers necessary for pick-up operation. But Republic Vice President Bob Coyle said the company has committed to the Teamsters in writing that nobody will be laid off because of single-stream recycling.

Commissioners were sympathetic to union concerns, but only Chris Giunchigliani and Lawrence Weekly voted against the proposal. Giunghigliani also demanded more clarity on the degree to which recycling is being embraced. She suggested Republic has provided unclear data on recycling activity, and the economic impact it produces.

Giunchigliani unsuccessfully prodded Republic to start the recycling expansion without cutting the twice- weekly trash schedule, telling Coyle that for fifteen years customers have been charged for, and promised — but have not received — expanded recycling service.

Weekly said he has consituents who work for Republic, and who have expressed fear that their hours will be cut or their jobs eliminated.

Some members of the public testified that twice-weekly trash pick-up doesn’t cut it in the Las Vegas summer heat. Several recycling enthusiasts and conservation groups offered support.

The final vote was 4-2, on a motion by Commissioner Larry Brown that imposed the conditional approval. Commissioner Tom Collins was not present for the vote.

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