Manufacturers help drive recycling bill to passage

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A state lawmaker who co-authored legislation setting a goal for Indiana to eventually recycle at least half of its municipal waste says the state's resource-hungry manufacturing industry was a key to the bill's passage this year.

Rep. Matt Pierce, D-Bloomington, said environmental groups had asked the Legislature for years to look at the possibilities for recycling in the state. But this year, Verallia North America, a glass maker, and Alcoa Inc., an aluminum maker, both backed the bill Pierce co-authored and lawmakers approved the measure.

"Even though it's a great opportunity to put in some policies, what's really driving it is these industries," Pierce told the Bloomington Herald-Times.

Gov. Mike Pence signed the measure into law in late March. The law sets a new recycling standard for the state of 50 percent of all municipal waste, although it doesn't set a timeline for reaching that goal.

The legislation also provides for a study committee on recycling in Indiana and will create a recycling-tracking system to help chart the state's progress toward its new goal.

A 2012 study by Purdue University and a 2013 Ball State University study estimated that recyclable items make up between 50 and 65 percent of trash disposed of in landfills or incinerated in Indiana, said Larry Barker, executive director of the Monroe County Solid Waste Management District.

Barker said his southern Indiana district already has a 60-percent recycling rate, but there is plenty of room for improvement and the state's new tracking system will help.

"We'll have a very good picture by region, by county, by transfer station, by landfills as to what is actually trash," he said.

Barker said he hopes that recycling information can advance his long-running proposal for Monroe County to create a waste stream materials recovery facility that would separate glass, paper, aluminum and other recyclables from trash.

Those materials would then be sold to manufacturers—a project Barker has said will create jobs in the county and also be self-sustaining.

Pierce noted that Bloomington and Monroe County already have some of the most progressive recycling programs in Indiana. He said the new state recycling goal could expand those programs further.

"I think the opportunity is here to take programs that we have in Monroe County and scale those up," Pierce said.


  • recycling
    In the 70's and 80's we recycled in Minnesota. If you recycle you save $50 on your trash bill, so people did it. Why in Indiana do we have to pay to recycle? Raise the trash bill and rebate it back to them if they recycle.
  • Time
    With no timeline this is mostly a fluff bill, but bet they had no choice to get it passed.
  • Buy Our Trash
    It's about time to reverse the trash business. Now our trash is a valuable resource, so we (the people) should no longer be paying for collection. Our trash has value now, and collectors should at least take it for free, if not offer to buy it by weight, and use machines to separate it so we don't have to mess about with separate containers and pickups. Just take it all and let the machines deal with it. Be careful with over-legislating mandates that may create unnecessary burden / overhead on trash processing costs.
  • congratulations
    This is a welcome step, and thanks to those industries who no doubt did it out of their own self-interest rather than altruism, but Indiana's effort in sustaining environmental quality is pretty far behind, so let's hope this moves along at a fast clip.

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