Controversial Indy recycling plant gets green light

(WISH Photo, file)

INDIANAPOLIS (WISH) – A controversial recycling plan is coming to Indianapolis.  On Wednesday Covanta got the green light to change the way the city handles waste.

The vote to move forward wasn’t even close. With all but one of those with the final say, saying yes.  Now, residents who don’t pay curbside recycling in Indianapolis, will get their trash recycled.

“The only thing we’re doing is those who are just putting it into the trash, that material will now be recycled to the best of the ability available.  That’s the only thing that’s changed,” says Indianapolis Mayor Greg Ballard.

Covanta, the company that runs the city’s trash incinerator will pay for and build a $45-million automated material recovery center.  The Mayor says that means Covanta, is providing recycling for 100% of single family residences in Indianapolis with no government mandate and no tax or rate increase.

“At a best case scenario we’re only going to recycle 18% of our recyclable materials, which is a big problem.  In addition, we’re not going to recycle glass at all.” says Democratic City-County Councilor John Barth, who has said he is not in favor of the deal.

He says there are significant penalties the city will have to pay if curbside or other recycling services get bigger than Covanta.

“So if we do a better job and put in a better process for recycling in Indianapolis, we will have to pay Covanta $4-million a year,” says Barth.

“But it’s a typical piece in a contract that allows them to protect for the investment they are putting in the facility of $45-million dollars,” says Jeremiah Shirk, Chief of Staff for the Board of Public Works.

He told the Board of Public Works the Covanta recycling plan is a good one.  And all but one of the five board members agreed, said Gregory Garrett.

The vote was 4-1 in favor.  The Board of Public Works is appointed by the Mayor and it has the final vote.

The city-county council has no say.  The deal is a 14 year contract with Covanta that expires in 2028.

Citizens will still be able to pay for and get curbside recycling service separate from your regular trash collection.  But, once the plant is finished in 2016, some of the trash will be recycled. provides commenting to allow for constructive discussion on the stories we cover. In order to comment here, you acknowledge you have read and agreed to our Terms of Service. Commenters who violate these terms, including use of vulgar language or racial slurs, will be banned. Please be respectful of the opinions of others and keep the conversation on topic and civil. If you see an inappropriate comment, please flag it for our moderators to review.

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