A new study conducted by Ball State University suggests that Indiana could generate 10,000 jobs if 25 percent of Hoosier waste is instead recycled. The Indiana Recycling Coalition paid for the study as it pushed for state leaders to release state funding that could improve local recycling options that would in turn provide high in demand materials to recycling companies.
“We size it, we clean it, and we sell it back to customers that turn it either into another bottle or into fiberglass insulation,” said Curt Bucey, President and COO of Strategic Materials, the largest glass recycling company in the United States. One of his plants was built in Indianapolis 20 years ago, and he said he could handle 20 percent more glass.
“We’d add equipment, and we’d add jobs,” said Bucey.
“While industry has developed around using recycled materials, and we have strong in-state demand for that material, what we haven’t done is invest in collecting that material from residences and businesses across the state,” said Carey Hamilton, an official with the Indiana Recycling Coalition.
Hamilton said the first step would be the release of some state funding among other policy changes. Indianapolis city officials agree.
‘As the City of Indianapolis, we give approximately $135,000 a year to this fund that is created for recycling programs, and since 2009, they have only spent 10 percent of that budget,” said Melody Park, Indianapolis Office of Sustainability Director.
The study also claims, while $6 million tons of material ends up in Indiana landfills and incinerators each year, less than 10 percent of it is truly trash.
Plus, Indiana takes waste from four neighboring states.
“We have extremely cheap disposal rates in Indiana so, we in some ways, subsidize more waste,” said Hamilton.
“I need to know there is more material coming in, and then i would ramp up,” said Bucey. “We have plants in California that recycle in one month what this plant does in an entire year.”
Bucey also explained how the manufacturers that buy from him prefer recycled materials. “It conserves raw materials, saves energy for our customers, and it reduces air emissions,” he said.
A representative with the governor’s office said they are interested in looking at ways to improving Indiana’s recycling rate that is described by the study as relatively low, but he would not elaborate.