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Federal Judge Rules Against Small Haulers in Waste Management Dispute

By Bob Conrad
Waste Management transfer station. Image: Bob Conrad

Waste Management's recycling facility in Reno. Image Bob Conrad.

Waste Management’s recycling facility in Reno. Image Bob Conrad.

Reno’s small waste haulers were dealt a blow this week in their ongoing dispute against the City of Reno and Waste Management. Green Solutions Recycling filed suit against the city and Reno Disposal (Waste Management) over the city’s enforcement of its franchise agreement with Waste Management.

(Read the ruling below.)

U.S. District Court Judge Mirandu Du issued a ruling that sides mostly with the city and Waste Management.

The state and, by extension, the city have a right to give waste haulers a monopoly over waste and recycling collection, she said. “The statute at issue here expressly authorizes anticompetitive conduct. Accordingly, the Court finds that the City and Reno Disposal’s anticompetitive conduct has been clearly articulated and affirmatively expressed as state policy.”

The ruling could settle the case against small haulers whose customers have been threatened by the city with fines and jail time for using haulers that collect recyclables from local businesses.

Chase Whittemore, attorney for Green Solutions, said he was disappointed with the ruling.

“This is not the outcome we had hoped for, and we respectfully disagree with the order. The owners of Green Solutions Recycling pride themselves on being a green company and an alternative recycling solution for local businesses to turn to when faced with the often difficult option of dealing with Waste Management,” he said. “Businesses and consumers deserve and demand choice. We feel this a very narrow decision that may lend itself particularly well for an appeal.

“Judge Du is a well-respected and learned judge,” he added. “But sometimes even the most knowledgeable judges and their decisions may get overturned. We will be weighing our options and discussing the matter further with our client.”

The ruling could affect another suit in state court and future city actions.

Waste Management’s Kendra Kostelecky praised the decision.

“We are pleased about this decision because it validates statements made by the Reno City Attorney’s Office that these businesses have been operating in violation of the law,” she said. “Their actions have also resulted in the loss of hundreds of thousands of dollars in revenue to the City of Reno.”

Reno City Attorney Karl Hall also said he was pleased with the decision.


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