NWRA, Indiana County Reach Temporary Accord on Lawsuit

NWRA, Indiana County Reach Temporary Accord on Lawsuit

The National Waste and Recycling Association (NWRA) and Indiana’s Warrick County have reached a temporary agreement following the NWRA filing suit against the county for what it sees as a monopolistic practice.

The agreement in the U.S. District Court allows residents to use any hauler in the county’s curbside waste and recycling program rather than just the Warrick County Solid Waste Management District’s proposed sole contractor, Renewable Resources LLC.

The agreement runs through Jan. 21, when a hearing is scheduled in the court for the South District of Indiana, according to the temporary settlement. The curbside program with Renewable Resources was to start Dec. 1.

In the temporary agreement the district also agreed not seek fees from any person for choosing another hauler.

Christopher Doherty, vice president, communications for the association, said in an e-mail that the NWRA could not comment further on the suit at this time.

The NWRA alleged in November that the county’s awarding of the contract amounted to “a de facto monopoly” for waste and recycling processing. The suit, filed on behalf of the NWRA member companies doing business in the county, alleges that the award resulted from an irregular bidding and procurement process conducted by the Warrick County Commission. The association said the recently enacted process followed by the solid waste district violates both the U.S. Constitution’s Commerce Clause and various Indiana statutes.

The complaint specifically states that the waste district’s resolutions grants Renewable Resources a monopoly over curbside collection and the processing of solid waste and recyclables in the county. The waste district’s decision “creates an impermissible burden on interstate commerce.” The association said the district does not allow in-state and out-of-state bidders “to compete freely on a level playing field.”

In response to the original suit, Todd Glass, the district’s legal counsel, said in a statement that it was the county's goal was to find a single hauler who would collect waste and recyclables for the least amount of money and for the most county residents.

"The other haulers participated in that process and they just didn't win the contract, and therefore now we have a lawsuit from some disgruntled bidders saying it wasn't something that should have been done," he said.

Glass added, "I really believe we will be successful in defending this program from this lawsuit. I don't believe that they can prove that they are entitled to the relief they are requesting."

The association’s recent efforts include providing comments to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA)’s pair of proposals to control methane gas emissions from municipal solid waste (MSW) landfills. The NWRA also issued a report recently on economic indicators for the industry in the first half. The indicators were generally strong, and industry officials were optimistic about the near future.

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