City Government and Local Government and Recycling and Energy & Environment and Solid Waste and Environment and Government & Economic Development and Government and Environmentally friendly

City seeks new operator for recycling program

October 4, 2011

The city is seeking a new operator for its drop-off recycling programs with the aim of boosting participation in the initiative.

Indianapolis’ contract with Republic Services, which processes, stores and sells materials collected at 26 drop-off bins across the city, expires at the end of the year.

The new five-year contract for those services will begin Jan. 1, and proposals from companies are due Oct. 17.

Among the city’s goals in finding an operator is to “maximize the recyclables collected ... and to achieve the most financial benefit possible from the marketing of said products to cover the actual costs of the program,” according to a request for proposals released last month.

The city is looking for a revenue-sharing plan similar to its current arrangement, in which costs for running the program are deducted from the money generated from selling recyclable materials.

In some years, the program generates revenue for the city’s general fund. In other years, it costs the city to operate the program, depending on market prices for recyclable materials, said Kara Brooks, a spokeswoman for the city’s Department of Public Works.

In 2009, for example, Indianapolis paid $130,000 for the drop-off recycling program, but received $121,000 from it in 2010. Through August, the city has received $251,000 from the drop-off recycling program.

It’s unclear how many of Marion County’s 358,284 households participate in drop-off recycling programs, but the tonnage collected from the sites represents about 4 percent of the total solid waste in the county.

The request for proposals says the city is looking for ways to increase participation in those programs. It stipulates that the selected operator must offer educational seminars in Marion County schools and purchase newspaper advertisements touting the recycling program.

Mayor Greg Ballard has talked about finding a way to subsidize the city’s separate curbside recycling program to encourage more residents to participate.

But, as IBJ reported in January, discussions of such a plan have stalled this year, since it’s likely some costs would have to be passed onto taxpayers. Residents currently pay a $6 monthly rate for curbside pick-up.

Those who don’t use the curbside service can use bins on city sidewalks or the drop-off locations, which are located mostly in grocery-store parking lots and parks.
 
Brooks said the new contract for drop-off service will have no effect on the curbside recycling program.

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