Sustainable Materials Management

Vision:  A Nevada where communities recognize and implement sustainable use of all resources 

What is Sustainable Materials Management?

Nevada has broadened the focus of solid waste management from a concentration on waste disposal to ensuring that materials are used to their greatest extent and are safely disposed of once they have reached the end of their lifetime.  The state has not been efficiently reusing materials in order to reduce environmental impact, which is why the introduction of sustainable materials management (SMM) is an exciting step toward a more sustainable future. SMM is a systemic approach to using and reusing materials more productively over their entire life cycles, and represents a change in how our society thinks about the use of natural resources and environmental protection. By examining how materials are used throughout their life cycle, an SMM approach seeks to:

  • Use materials in the most productive way, with an emphasis on using less.
  • Reduce toxic chemicals and environmental impacts throughout the material life cycle.
  • Assure we have sufficient resources to meet today’s needs and those of the future.

By looking at a product's entire life cycle—from materials extraction to end-of-life management—we can find new opportunities to minimize environmental impacts, conserve resources, and reduce costs.  

Background of Nevada Recycling Initiatives 

1991 - Nevada’s recycling program began with passage of Assembly Bill (AB) 320, which established three guiding principles:

  • A goal to recycle 25% of the municipal waste generated in Nevada
  • A preferential procurement policy for goods made with recycled materials
  • A directive to NDEP to provide education and technical assistance concerning waste reduction and recycling.

1999 - AB 564 required Washoe and Clark counties to develop recycling plans for public buildings and encouraged other counties to do the same. The bill also required local school districts and the Nevada System of Higher Education to recycle paper products.
2005 - Senate Bill (SB) 396 required Clark and Washoe counties to provide recycling information to business license applicants.

2009 - SB 137 required provision for making recycling containers avail­able at certain apartment complexes. The bill also contained requirements that construction or renovation permits must incorporate space for recy­cling containers.
2018 - NDEP implemented a grant to municipal­ities, educational institutions, and non-profit organizations to enhance solid waste management systems and promote recycling. Since the implementation, $100,000 have been distributed to fund 10 projects.

Several efforts were made to establish container deposit legislation or a “bottle bill,” the most recent of which was AB 427 in 2011, which created a Legislative Commission Committee to study the Deposits and Refunds on Recycled Products. In 2013, the committee chose not to pursue a bottle bill, but supported a resolution expressing support for the adoption of single-stream recycling by municipalities and a recommendation to raise the recycling goal from 25% to 40%. No further action was taken to increase the diversion goal. In 2015, a bill was introduced to divert construction and demo­lition waste for recycling, but it was also not acted on.

Nevada's Sustainable Future

In order to further the state in recycling and sustainability initiatives, sustainable materials management has become the focus of Nevada solid waste programs to lessen the environmental impacts of renewable and nonrenewable materials. The BSMM is currently creating a SMM Plan for the State of Nevada.  Each community values each material differently, utilizes different materials more than others, and will have the chance to choose what materials are possible for them to recycle or repurpose in their area.  What works for one county may not work for the next county due to geographic differences, population variety, workforce types, etc.  This plan will allow each county, municipality, and region to create a plan that not only helps the state obtain the mandated recycling goal, but will also improve each individual community.