A Greener Indiana

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unbelievable news...due to recent happenings with property tax reform on the state level, it has been mentioned that one of the city services that might need to be cut in logansport to compensate for budget cuts is curbside recycling. i put in a call to the mayor, who stated that although he was not in support of eliminating this service, if the budgets do not allow we must look at this as an option to cut. the community is finally starting to realize the importance of recycling, and my goal is to educate regarding reduse, reuuse, recycle as well as ways to be more environmentally friendly. to see this "solution" printed on the front page of the newspaper was heartbreaking to me. any suggestions regarding how to address this situation would be greatly appreciated.

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Tags: recycle


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Comment by Julie L. Rhodes on November 18, 2008 at 9:56pm
Daniel: Glass is a particularly tricky material to recycle, especially when markets are not nearby. Indiana used to be home to five glass container manufacturers and now there are none. Glass has lost huge market share to plastic over the years in all packaging. It's lighter-weight for transportation which is good for reducing glass, but boy, personally, I hate drinking from plastic. But, I digress. In terms of limited raw materials, the main ingredients for glass are not limited....sand and silica. They are particular expensive as raw materials go either. The primary benefit for a furnace using recycled glass is that is requires a great deal less energy to melt down recycled glass bottles over using raw materials. This is all that really keeps glass recycling viable.

Many communities have found creative means for using glass besides glass container manufacturing. I've seen great cottage industries that take glass and make tiles, coasters and decorative pieces....there are these kinds of opportunities for small scale use on a local level with a non-profit. There are also aggregate substitute markets....using glass as an alternative to sand or aggregate in asphalt, as backfill for pipe installation, in drainage and septic fields, and I saw a great use of glasphalt in a runway at a small airport to reduce their needs for runway lights (it provided reflective quality). There was one county in Indiana (I believe it was Washington County) where the highway engineer was also the solid waste district director and he got a glass crusher and put crushed glass into his road base projects. There are creative ideas for local use, but the economics are difficult when looking for regional markets as was historically the way recyclables are marketed. I hope that's helpful and wish you luck.
Comment by Daniel Vaughn on November 18, 2008 at 8:22pm
We are facing a similar situation in Vincennes. And what's the deal with recycling glass in IN? (well, in SW IN at least)
Comment by Julie L. Rhodes on March 9, 2008 at 9:07pm
That is unfortunate to hear, but I do think that the efforts of you and others in your community could assist in saving the recycling program. What you may not know (or maybe you do) is that your Mayor, Mike Fincher, was actually the Cass County solid waste management district director for many, many years. As a result, he will be more educated than your average elected official on recycling issues. That said, there is information available that could assist you and others in fighting this, and proven methods of getting a groundswell of support around recycling on the grassroots level.

A good place to start for information is the National Recycling Coalition. For instance, see their top 10 reasons to recycle at: http://www.nrc-recycle.org/top10reasonstorecycle.aspx

NRC also hosts the annual America Recycles Day and provides good information on this dedicated website at: http://www.nrc-recycle.org/recycling101.aspx

The NRC's Indiana affiliate, the Indiana Recycling Coalition, might also be able to provide some information and assistance, though we (I sit on the IRC board of directors) typically have avoided getting into local home rule issues. I suspect that the City of Logansport is actually a member of the IRC. But, you could certainly pursue some information and possibly some advocacy from the IRC.

The IRC put together a website last year at www.DefendRecycling.org as a result of legislation introduced that would have been very bad for recycling. There you can find letters to the Governor and such that you might find useful in developing letters to your local elected officials and to the editor(s) of your local newspaper(s).

A couple of years ago in Indianapolis, our Mayor threatened to do away with recycling because it was "too expensive". Even though we don't have a high percentage of the population who regularly recycle, people really voiced their opinions -- to city/county council, to the Mayor's Action Center, and many, many letters were received by the Indianapolis Star (the local newspaper). That made a difference, and they looked elsewhere for cuts, but also looked for ways to make the recycling program more efficient and cost effective.

The simple truth is that there are economies of scale. The more people who participate, the more material collected on the shortest route, the more cost-effective a program can be. But, also don't forget to remind them that we pay millions of dollars for disposal a year also. So, every ton of waste that isn't recycled, isn't dollars saved. Instead, it is material that then must be disposed of at a cost (still there is cost for labor, transportation, trucks, and tip fees), so it's not like dollar for dollar savings.

Also, there are so many other important reasons to recycle other than just the bottom line, as you will find on the website that I steered you to.

If I can assist you further, don't hesitate to ask. I get tired of recycling so often being on the chopping block because there is a perception (based on some real statistical data regarding participation rates) that people don't care about recycling...so, it's fair game. So, you just need to make sure they know that you and many others genuinely care, and that recycling is a public service no different than trash disposal, water, electricity, sewage treatment, etc.

Best of luck and keep us posted here.

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