Recycling is big economic engine

December 8, 2012

In the [Nov. 19] IBJ, Jesse Kharbanda outlined the Hoosier Environmental Council’s legislative “wish list” for the upcoming session. The article notes that, given the increased number of Republicans in both houses, it is unlikely that green initiatives will occupy much space on the legislative calendar. This is shortsighted: Green initiatives do not necessarily have to represent regulatory burdens that destroy jobs; they can just as easily create employment opportunities.

My wish is that the Legislature would look at a host of iss ues outside of the binary logic that has trapped our political process in such a quagmire of inaction (green issues = Democratic, family values = Republican). In the aftermath of the 2012 election cycle, this would seem an ideal moment to reframe the issues.

At RecycleForce, we view recycling first and foremost as a job-creating activity. The 1.3 million pounds of steel we have recycled in 2012 represents an important link in the value chain of Indiana’s steel industry—recycled steel is an important input at the Nucor plant in Crawfordsville. The same is true for the aluminum we recycle—Indiana has one of the world’s largest aluminum facilities down in Warwick County. We should not forget that Saint-Gobain has a large glass manufacturing facility in Muncie.

Each of these examples represents significant capital investment and provides a substantial number of jobs.

By reintroducing materials back into the value chain as industrial inputs, be it cardboard, plastic, copper, steel or aluminum, we increase the efficiency of Indiana’s industry base. Sustainability of the manufacturing process, zero-waste targets and increased energy efficiency are all-important aspects of the new order of advanced manufacturing.•

Tom Gray

vice president, RecycleForce

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