Planning to improve Indianapolis recycling

Increasing recycling is one of the topics at the Indiana Recycling Coalition annual conference at the Indianapolis Marriott East. (WTHR Photo/Rich Nye)
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INDIANAPOLIS (WTHR) - Indianapolis is the largest city in the United States without a universal curbside recycling program.

The city has pledged to change that by 2025 in its Thrive Indianapolis Plan. Increasing recycling is one of the topics at the Indiana Recycling Coalition annual conference at the Indianapolis Marriott East.

The recycling rate in Indy is just 4.3 percent, compared to the national average of 34 percent. The state goal in Indiana is 50 percent.

"Indianapolis has a long history of not having great recycling,” said Allyson Mitchell, executive director of the Indiana Recycling Coalition (IRC). “It's an opt-in system. In order to achieve a world-class city that Indianapolis wants to be in terms of sustainability and the circular economy, we need to make recycling accessible and affordable for all residents."

IRC is leading the Indianapolis Recycling Initiative to bring business and civic leaders together to develop the best strategy for recycling in the state's largest city. IRC hopes to launch a public campaign by early next year.


Right now, Indianapolis residents must request and pay a separate fee for curbside recycling. All contracts with the city and service providers expire at the end of 2024, allowing a new solid waste plan to be adopted for 2025 and beyond.

Mitchell wants every Indianapolis residence to have trash and recycling containers side-by-side.

“We want to bring some additional educational information along with that so that they know what goes in the trash and what goes in the recycling, so that they have access to that recycling,” said Mitchell. “It’s affordable. It’s accessible. It’s easy and they know how to use it.”

The Indianapolis Recycling Initiative could also include a subscription-based curbside compost program for organic (food/yard) waste.

Mitchell wants to see investments in infrastructure as well that would promote and strengthen the circular economy. She says recycling improvements in recycling in the state’s largest city would have a positive impact on all of Indiana.

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