Stakeholders try to restore Indiana recycling funding

Stakeholders try to restore Indiana recycling funding

By Dylan de Thomas, Resource Recycling

Various commodity producers and stakeholder groups in Indiana have recently come together to try and boost recycling in the Hoosier State.

At an Indiana General Assembly committee meeting earlier this month, representatives from aluminum company Alcoa, glass container manufacturer Verallia North America and the head of the Indiana Recycling Coalition all testified in support of increasing recycling in Indiana.

In 2009, Governor Mitch Daniels froze a recycling fund sourced from a $.50-per-ton tipping fee, redirecting the collected monies to the state's general coffers. Since then, recycling advocates in Indiana have been fighting to get that money reallocated to materials recovery efforts. They saw limited success in 2010 when approximately 10 percent of the funds were re-allocated for recycling.

"We believe there's momentum to get all of those roughly $5 million dollars back now," said Carey Hamilton, executive director of the Indiana Recycling Coalition (IRC). "We really hope we can move forward this year."

According to Hamilton, back in March, the IRC launched an industry stakeholder dialog which consisted of a host of industry players including commodity representatives such as Alcoa, Owens-Illinois, Perpetual Recycling Solutions, Petoskey Plastics, Strategic Materials and Verallia North America; waste management interests such as the National Solid Waste Management Association, Republic Services and Waste Management; and retail and bottling concerns such as the Hoosier Beverage Association, Indiana Beer Wholesalers Association, Indiana Retail Council and the Indiana Beverage Alliance. Three more dialogs have been held since.

At the committee meeting, a whole host of recycling solutions were discussed, including beverage container deposit measures, disposal bans on certain commodities, bar and restaurant container recycling laws and pay-as-you-throw waste management systems.

While not one waste and recycling management strategy was singled out by those involved, one message was made clear by all involved: more recycling needs to happen in the Hoosier State.

"Approximately $30 million worth of aluminum is going to landfill annually in Indiana. That's a lot of raw material going to waste," said Beth Schmitt, director of recycling programs for Alcoa. "There is a great deal of room for improvement."

Indiana is a traditional hub for container manufacturing. For instance, the state is second only to California for glass container manufacturing and Alcoa, alone, has four plants in the region.

"You could see the proverbial light bulbs turning on in legislators' heads when we highlighted the strong demand for recycled material from Indiana's manufacturers," said IRC's Hamilton. "We're really hopeful for our prospects this year to get some of that funding back."

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