November 17, 2015
The National Waste and Recycling Association (NWRA) has filed a suit in a U.S. District Court against an Indiana county for what it calls the award of “a de facto monopoly” for waste and recycling processing.
The Washington-based NWRA filed the complaint against the Warrick County (Ind.) Solid Waste Management District, in the court for the South District of Indiana. It is seeking injunctive relief to stop the award, according to a news release.
The association filed the suit on behalf of its member companies doing business in the county.
The NWRA 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 Warrick violates both the U.S. Constitution’s Commerce Clause and various Indiana statutes.
The complaint specifically states that the waste district’s resolutions grant private contractor Renewable Resources LLC 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 it does not allow in-state and out-of-state bidders “to compete freely on a level playing field.”
The curbside collection program is to start Dec. 1.
(The following response from the district is an update from the original story.)
In response to the 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.