Indiana legislators are studying whether and how to encourage more recycling because the two-year budget passed this year allocates an additional $1.1 million to recycling funds that are designed to encourage recycling or recycling businesses.
The state has four such funds. But in 2008, then-Governor Mitch Daniels suspended expenditures from the funds as part of the effort to keep the budget balanced when the recession hit.
One of the four was revived in 2010, offering $500,000 in grants each year to encourage recyclers to locate or expand in Indiana.
Environmental Management Commissioner Tom Easterly says Indiana has met a goal established in 1990 to cut in half the amount of trash going into landfills. But he says there is no data on how much material Hoosiers recycle, much less whether any of the various incentives has accomplished anything.
“We don’t have any way to measure how much is recycled in Indiana,” he says. “We could not document what all the grants did. If they increased the recycling percentage at all.”
Recycling company officials say increasing recycling would boost the economy as well.
“Imagine that plastic water bottle going into a recycling container, being collected, sent to a recycling truck, going to a processing facility,” she says. “Then it very likely goes to an Indiana manufacturer. That’s are all jobs and economic activity that otherwise would not exist.”
Some recycling companies have estimated there is about $40 million worth of aluminum currently going into landfills that could instead be recycled.
Bottle and can manufacturers are suggesting several possible changes to boost recycling rates, from a refundable deposit on bottles to an outright ban on putting recyclables in the trash.