A legislative panel was told Tuesday that, statewide, Nevada recycles only about 20 percent of the bottles, cans and other recyclable waste it produces.
Carson City and Douglas County, however, are doing much better than that, according to Northern Recycling Coordinator Jasmine Vittori of the state Division of Environmental Protection.
In Carson City, she said, the rate was 41.6 percent. In Douglas, it was 38.8 percent.
Assemblyman Pete Livermore, R-Carson City, said he believes the reason is simple: The same company that picks up the garbage also provides recycling containers and collects them every two weeks on the same day as the garbage.
Washoe County came in at a respectable 27.1 percent. It has a similar system to Carson City, managed by Waste Management.
Clark County is the reason Nevada's rate is low, with just 17 percent of recyclables being collected there.
Vittori said Nevada's rate of 20.6 percent is well below that of many other states, and she noted that some states are now aiming for much higher recycling rates.
Oregon, she said, "is shooting for 70 percent."
The interim study originated with a bill by the study chairman, Assemblyman James Ohrenschall, D-Las Vegas, to impose a beverage container deposit in Nevada. It was converted into a study of the entire recycling issue. The panel consists of Ohrenschall, Livermore and Sen. Don Gustavson, R-Reno.
Ten states, including California and Oregon, have a deposit on most beverage containers. The committee was told that the deposits greatly increase recycling of those containers. The overall rate in California is 88 percent for those containers, 72 percent in Hawaii and 84 percent in Oregon.
Nevada, by comparison, recycles less than half of those containers, the committee was told.
If a deposit plan is imposed in Nevada, state officials would have to decide whether it should be handled by the state or private sector, how and when it would be implemented, and what the deposit would be and how it would be redeemed.
Under current law, counties with more than 100,000 residents must provide curbside recycling for residential areas and public buildings, establish recycling centers and encourage businesses to reduce waste and recycle.
Counties between 45,000 and 100,000 aren't required to provide curbside recycling, but can. They must provide for collection and disposal of hazardous wastes and establish recycling centers as needed. Lyon County just moved into that category and is beginning to set up its recycling services.
Counties smaller than that may provide recycling services but don't have to.
The study committee will meet five times to develop recommendations for the 2013 Legislature.