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Indiana Manufacturing Industry Suffers from Lack of Recycled Materials

Strategic Materials, the largest glass recycler in the US, can’t keep up with demand at its Indianapolis location – though customers are “begging” for recycled crushed glass to make products like insulation or beverage containers, the facility operates at only about 60% to 70% capacity, writes the Indianapolis Star.

That’s because Indianapolis, the largest US city without a universal curbside recycling program, has no good way to get recyclers the materials they need. Pratt Industries, for example, recycles paper and cardboard into packaging for customers like Amazon and Home Depot, but its Valparaiso mill cannot get enough of what it needs from the state; Perpetual Recycling, which prepares plastic for manufacturers that make bottles for beverage giants like Pepsi and Nestle, also has to go outside of the state for most of its materials.

The need to import material from other states increases costs for companies – costs that may, in fact, be “stifling” the state’s manufacturing industry. If the state’s recycling system is not fixed, manufacturers will begin moving to states that have more robust recycling, says Ron Gonen, co-found and CEO of Closed Loop Partners.

Because the state already has a strong manufacturing sector, it is well-poised to jump ahead in the recycling game if it can design a system that produces a steady and clean recycling stream, experts say. But it is in a race with Chinese companies that have been buying up recycling facilities across the US. China’s scrap import policies – along with other recent foreign and domestic changes – are beginning to be felt in the Indiana manufacturing and recycling sectors, writes WasteDive.

Indianapolis Mayor Joe Hogsett says the administration will roll out universal recycling by 2025, but critics say that is too far away. Currently, residents who want to recycle must pay as much as $99 a year for curbside recycling services, and just 10% of residents participate in the program.

In 2016, Covanta was expected to break ground on a $45 million state-of-the-art automated materials recovery facility in Indianapolis that it said would be modeled after the most modern recycling facilities in the world, but after a prolonged and controversial battle, the deal was ultimately nixed.

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