By Tim Oudman
On April 14, The Nevada Independent ran a column titled, “It’s time for waste collection norms to change” by the head of public policy at Rubicon Global, a waste services broker that positions itself as the “Uber of the waste industry.” The column lent support to Senate Bill 315, which would curtail the ability of local municipalities to grant franchise agreements and regulate solid waste collection. Rubicon argued that multiple companies competing for residential and commercial waste pick-up would benefit consumers, as well as improve recycling. While Rubicon’s position is seemingly progressive, there is very little, if any, truth to that notion here in Nevada. I would like to set the record straight.
As the solid waste franchisee for Southern Nevada, Republic Services has invested millions of dollars in solid waste collection innovations, including $40 million to build the largest and most technologically advanced recycling center in North America. In addition, our enhanced recycling collection services have enabled neighborhood diversion rates to jump from 3 percent to 24 percent, which is just the beginning.
We are investing millions more as we change our fleet of trucks and fueling stations from diesel to compressed natural gas, reducing carbon emissions that could otherwise pollute the air. We have invested in technology enhancements at the Apex Landfill as well, including converting underground gases into usable, clean energy.
We also pay millions of dollars per year to Nevada municipalities in franchise fees that are used for parks, public safety and other community services. And most importantly, we invest in our people, through wages that are 157 percent of the state average, and with health and benefit packages that are second to none. These investments are made possible because of long-term franchise agreements.
We’ve done all this while keeping local residential collection rates low. In fact, residential rates are just over $14 per month. And, I am proud to say that we earned a 99 percent customer satisfaction rating for our service – a credit to our very hard-working team.
So, why did Rubicon pen a false narrative? They don’t own or operate a single truck. They haven’t hired a single driver. They haven’t built a recycling center. They haven’t emptied a container of trash.
The answer is simple. By opening up waste collection to anyone with a truck, Rubicon can sell their software system to more independent haulers. There are several problems with the Rubicon broker model, including that it leads to multiple independent companies utilizing drivers who are not subject to rigorous training and background checks repeatedly running overlapping routes through residential neighborhoods and already over-burdened commercial streets. Further, Rubicon cannot guarantee or force the haulers using its software to recycle waste or dispose of it in an environmentally responsible manner. Quite frankly, Rubicon’s model will create more problems than it could ever hope to solve.
Republic Services is a proven partner for Nevada. We are truly committed to serving our customers, investing in our communities and working together to achieve Nevada’s sustainability goals.
Tim Oudman is Market Vice President, Republic Services.
Feature photo: A Republic Service garbage hauler arrives at the Cheyenne Transfer Station on Wednesday, March 29, 2017. Photo by Jeff Scheid.