The Indianapolis Plan for 100% Recycling

A new recycling facility should increase resident recycling activity by 500 percent as well as save enough energy to power 20,000+ homes annually. How and why Indianapolis is becoming more sustainable

What Happened?
Indianapolis is launching a program to bring recycling to all single family homes, increasing the amount of material recycled in the city by up to 500 percent for no additional costs to the city or residents. The city also is teaming up with a sustainable waste management and renewable energy private company to build a $45 million recycling facility to achieve the goal.

The Goal
The new recycling facility installed in Indianapolis will recover recyclables from mixed municipal solid waste. The state-of-the-art facility is expected to take Indianapolis from a 10 percent recycling rate to 100 percent while avoiding adding government mandates, fees or taxes. The new facility is also expected to create 70 jobs during construction phases and 60 permanent positions to operate the technology.

Once the recycling center is up and running, city officials predict it will:

  • Extract 80-90 percent of recyclable materials
  • Increase recycling activity by 500 percent
  • Cut the amount of carbon emissions released by 40,000 cars annually
  • Save enough energy to power more than 20,000 homes annually
  • Share trucks with existing waste management facility to reduce emissions and burdens on road infrastructure

Indianapolis will act as a pilot model for sustainability methods to effectively increase recycling and reduce energy consumption. The state of Indiana has a recycling goal of 50 percent and Indianapolis will set the tone for other municipalities to follow, if successful.

How It Works
The modern recycling center will be an automated materials recovery facility, a design already deployed throughout Europe. The resource will use mechanical tools and sensors to sift through mixed waste lots and extract recyclable materials from the piles. The facility will be located near the city’s advanced recycling center to create a dual sustainability tool.

SF Boasts Recycling Success
As Indianapolis makes strides toward a 100 percent recycling rate, San Francisco is also setting lofty goals: to eliminate waste that is neither recycled nor composted by 2020. San Francisco is allocating resources toward doing away with landfills and incinerators, which release pollutants.

San Francisco has deployed a step-by-step strategy to achieve its goal for zero waste, starting with working in tandem with the state’s goal to have a 50 percent recycling rate by 2010. San Francisco officials felt a zero waste goal was achievable after reading a report that showed 90 percent of the waste in the city’s landfill could be recycled – the majority being food waste.

San Francisco created numerous pieces of recycling-focused legislation such as banning the same of plastic bottles of water on public property, and installing more water fountains or allowing the use of compostable cups.

The city then researched the main industries generating the organic waste and devised strategies to reduce the production while saving the companies money. This included hotels, restaurants and grocery stores. The city also set rules for residents requiring and increase in recycling under penalty of fines. Thus far, the city has achieved an 80 percent recycling rate and continues to push forward to 2020.

Cutting Out The Garbage
EfficientGov has kept an eye on waste management and recycling trends that are not only protecting the environment but also saving cities money.

About the author

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Barry Greenfield

Barry Greenfield is the founder of EfficientGov.com.