A.G. Moody takes hand in settlement agreement in antitrust action against solid-waste giants

A Waste Management truck is shown during a festival in Pinellas Park. Credit: Michel Curi via Wikimedia Commons

A settlement agreement in an antitrust action involving the $4.6 billion merger between two giant garbage collection and recycling corporations requires the companies to spin off operations in six Florida counties, state Attorney General Ashley Moody announced Friday.

The action targets Waste Management Inc., which operates in 49 states and reported revenues of $15.5 billion last year, and Advanced Disposal Services Inc., of Ponte Vedra, which operates in 16 states and reported $1.6 billion in revenues.

Other than Florida, the parties challenging the merger were the U.S. Department of Justice and the states of Illinois, Minnesota, Pennsylvania, and Wisconsin.

The agreement is subject to approval by a federal judge in Washington, D.C.

“The proposed transaction presents the most significant consolidation in the waste industry in over a decade and would eliminate critical competition in over 50 local markets in 10 states in the eastern half of the United States,” the complaint asserts.

“If the transaction proceeds to close in its current form, consumers would likely pay higher prices and receive lower quality service,” it says.

It was the second notable antitrust development involving Moody this week — on Tuesday, she joined a federal and multi-state antitrust action accusing Google LLC of monopolizing the markets for internet search services and advertising by using exclusionary agreements to freeze out potential competitors.

Under the proposed settlement with the garbage haulers, the companies would give up commercial garbage hauling routes in Clay, Citrus, Duval, Marion and St. Johns counties. Additionally, Advanced Disposal would divest itself of hauling sites in Duval and Marion and a transfer station in Marion counties.

GFL Environmental Inc., of Ottawa, Canada, would assume control of those assets.

“I am proud to join the U.S. Department of Justice and our state partners in taking action to protect Florida businesses in this multibillion-dollar merger that could have left them paying high rates with fewer alternative waste collection options. Through this multi-agency action, we will preserve competition in our state in the waste collection and disposal market,” Moody said in a written statement.