City seeks new operator for recycling program

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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.


  • You can't put a price on the earth
    To me, I've always thought that recycling should be mandatory for every household and free. People who don't recycle should be fined for excessive trash. People who are too lazy to take two seconds to toss some cans in a recycling container as opposed to the trash can are the people who are destroying this planet. Sooo much stuff can be recycled it's ridiculous. Indiana has a horrible rating when it comes to green initiatives. We have to do more. I think businesses should have a mandatory recycling program too. "We don't inherit the earth from our ancestors, we borrow it from our children." (native american proverb)
  • Yes, it does work
    In rural southern Indiana, where my parents live, they have community drop-off sites for recyclables and you must buy tickets to apply to bags of trash for them to be accepted. Because you are paying for each bag of trash, it DOES encourage recycling. I have not noticed any higher levels of illegal dumping. Are rural people more likely to care about resource stewardship than urban dwellers and thus it works there but won't work here? I don't know.
    In my office, the ones who don't recycle are the young people. When you mention it to them, they act like they can't be bothered to take their plastic bottles to the recycling container that's about 30 feet away from them. How does one motivate the lazy and those with an I-don't-care attitude? It's really not that hard to drop off your recyclables on the way to work, but to hear some you'd think you were asking for a major investment of their time and effort.
  • way out of step
    Great to see Hoosier hospitality from someone like Bertram, who tells people who don't agree with him to shut up. Hoosiers don't know a thing about high taxes. All that seems clear is the "business friendly" environment our leaders here try to cultivate hasn't exactly done wonders at attracting venture capitalists or innovative new green businesses. Indiana is still the least educated state in the Midwest, it usually ranks in the bottom five for environmental stewardship, and "hoosiers" is synonymous in some parts of the country with some fairly unflattering demographic types.
  • more taxes for recycling
    Barb this is not NJ and Hoosiers are already over taxed so please if you are provided the opportunity to speak, don't. Recyclers are contracted and should make a profit without taxpayer cotributions.
  • going green
    actually, curbside recycling does not increase litter. at least it did not in Nj where the city furnishes the bins. i thought it was brilliant and am really going to consider going to talk with these people about my ideas. i would gladly pay a little more in taxes to get this going.
    • Build cost into taxes
      Like many other cities already do, Indy should offer mandatory recycling curbside and build the cost into taxes. It would be a nominal increase. This way 100% of homes would recycle because they have to and I wouldn't have to take the recycling every weekend and transport it myself. That is energy and time wasting too.
    • Trash
      I just would like my trash man to empty the entire trash can, every week. He always leaves 1/2 of it, unless I leave a note asking him to take all of it.
    • Reply to Smarter/Cleaner
      In theory, I totally agree with you, I have often thought that is the way to go. However, I think we would see a tremendous amount of litter and illegal dumping if we charged by the can/bag or pound. I am a "tree hugger" to a degree, but I just don't see how that is realistic. Thank you for recycling!
      • Glad to hear my recycling is helping deter costs to the city
        I regularly drop off my recycling at Sahm's Park. I often wondered if it truly was recycled or sent to the landfill when recyclables markets were down. My request for curb service was never realized after ordering, and I decided it was more convenient and less costly to just take it to the park drop-off location.
      • really?
        Why would the city want to encourage curbside pick up? They've made 250 grand this year off the trash I don't wanna take the time to sort or store. That's good business and actually the way it should be, for a change. Recycling should be mandatory and curbside and the city should still see all profits.
      • Recycling should be free and trash should cost more.
        Mine was $8.00 a month... Couldn't afford to pay anymore.

        We need to make people pay per trash can/bag, and subsidize unlimited recycling with the trash fees. This way there is incentive to recycle more (less cans of trash), less impact on our landfills, and FREE recycling for people who actually want it.

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