State sets new recycling goal


Recyling bins are set up next to most trash cans on campus to encourage students to recycle. IU is ranked 45th in sustainability among colleges worldwide. Luke Schram Buy Photos

There is no deadline, and no one’s quite sure how far along the state is already, but legislation passed and signed this session seeks to make the 50-percent goal a reality.

“The legislature agreed that Indiana should strive to achieve 50 percent, which many others states have set a goal at,” said Carey Hamilton, executive director of Indiana Recycling Coalition.

“We do have a lot of work to do. We’ve got to make recycling more convenient to all Hoosiers.”

Indiana Recycling Coalition has been pushing the legislature for a 50-percent goal over the course of the past few years.

The group was founded in 1989 as a lobbying and education group for issues regarding recycling and waste reduction.

The goal itself was chosen because other states had already identified it and because the coalition and other supporters saw it as a way to strive for more recycling in Indiana, Hamilton said.

Although the coalition has been pushing for the goal for some time, at this session it gained traction.

The bill passed both houses unanimously and was signed into law by Gov. Mike Pence on March 25.

State Sen. Mark Stoops, D-Bloomington, was one of the bill’s sponsors. He identified it as one of his priorities at the beginning of the legislative session.

“Indiana doesn’t do a very good job at turning a lot of recyclables into markets that could recycle them,” Stoops said in January. “This is something that could create a number of jobs in Indiana.”

Moving forward, the legislature is tasked with putting together a study committee to set out a plan, according to the legislation.

This could include a number of policy initiatives geared toward increasing recycling in the state, Hamilton said.

One of the biggest obstacles, though, is that no one is sure how much recycling is happening now.

Hamilton said the coalition estimates about 20 to 25 percent of the state’s municipal waste is being recycled.

“We don’t really know because we haven’t required reporting from all sectors that recycle,” she said.

But the new law does require this reporting, so the state can gain a better understanding of the current state of waste reduction.

“Where we are today, we know that’s going to take some work,” Hamilton said. “We know we’re not close to 50.

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