Indianapolis approves 14-year recycling contract

INDIANAPOLIS - The City of Indianapolis is ready to launch a new recycling program, but some critics say the new deal is garbage.

The Board of Public Works approved a 14-year contract with Covanta. Company officials said the program will make it easier for people to recycle. 

Single-family homes will simply throw away their trash and Covanta will then pull out and sell the recyclables at no additional cost to taxpayers.

They plan to do this at a soon-to-be-built $45 million recycling facility on the city's south side next to Covanta's Harding Street incinerator.

The Board of Public Works passed the controversial program 4 to 1, and the lone voice of opposition came from Greg Garrett.

"There is a lot of things that were just rushed through. We didn't receive the contract until Friday night last week. I think that's improper for such a huge deal," Garrett said.

Others believed the program will make recycling easier.

"It's a common-sense option that allows everyone to participate in recycling and it's not at an additional cost to taxpayers," said Department of Public Works spokesman Scott Manning.

The city currently recovers only 5.7 percent of all recyclable trash. Covanta promises to increase that number to at least 18 percent or face penalties.

The Indiana Recycling Coalition doesn't like Covanta's plan. They said separating garbage from recyclables after it's all been mixed together is too dirty and will ruin some recyclable materials.

They accused the city of not looking hard enough for better curbside options that allow homeowners to do the separating.

"It's really the time to do effective new recycling programs and not the time to really limit ourselves for the next 14 years with a dirty collection system that won't support our economy and provide the really sustainable solution for Indianapolis," said Carey Hamilton with the Indiana Recycling Coalition.

Some residents participate in a $72 per year recycling program with Republic Waste Services. The Board of Public Works said that and other subscription-based curbside programs will still be available to those who choose to participate.

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