Judge sides with city in dispute over $45M Covanta recycling center

Two paper companies and a private citizen who sued the city of Indianapolis over a recycling deal with Covanta lacked legal standing to bring their complaint, a Marion County judge has ruled.

Marion Superior Judge Cynthia Ayers awarded summary judgment in favor of the city in an April 6 ruling.

Graphic Packaging International, Rock-Tenn Converting Company and Cathy Weinmann had hoped to stop the city from proceeding with a contract running through 2028, which guarantees the city’s municipal trash will continue going to Covanta’s Harding Street incinerator.

As part of that deal, Covanta will build a $45 million “advanced recycling facility,” which will pluck plastic, metal and paper out of the garbage.

The paper companies fear that the paper Covanta recovers will be contaminated, but Ayers said that’s not sufficient basis to file a lawsuit.

“There is no evidence that these two plaintiffs are using the resource at issue, i.e. the recycled products from the ARC because the facility has not been constructed and is not producing any products in the stream of commerce. Such speculative claims are insufficient to establish an actual or immediate injury,” Ayers wrote.

Weinmann’s interest in recycling was also insufficient basis for the suit, Ayers said.

“A mere unilateral expectation or an abstract environmental need is not an interest entitled to protection absent personal use of the resource at issue.”

The plaintiffs had alleged that the city violated the state Waste Disposal Statute by not conducting a public bidding process.

Ayers found that the city didn’t violate the statute because the deal was an amendment to an existing contract and lease of city property.

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