Legislature looks for new energy definitions
The State of Indiana plans to take a closer look at its recycling strategies and goals, according to a recent amendment to a Senate bill.
Senate Bill 154 originally directed the Environmental Quality Service Council (EQSC) to expand the definition of recycling to include waste-to-energy. This method would permit the state to burn recyclable materials produced in Indiana and classify it as recycling. The bill has been changed, however, and will now simply direct lawmakers to commission a study on whether or not waste-to-energy can qualify as a form of recycling.
Although rule-making is the most prominent point in this bill, Sandra Flum, a director of the Indiana Department of Environmental Management, said that waste-to-energy will still be discussed when the topic of recycling comes up in the committee. The bill now states that the EQSC will “study and make findings and recommendations concerning … the goals, funding, markets and structure of recycling in Indiana.”
Under current Environmental Protection Agency standards, waste-to-energy is not currently considered a form of recycling. Advocates of waste-to-energy would like to see that changed, claiming there is a type of recycling created because burning waste minimizes the amount of garbage in landfills and produces heat energy that can then be used to heat buildings or create electricity.
Recycling advocates, however, are concerned that burning technologies will reduce the number of Indiana residents who practice traditional methods of recycling and mislead them to believe it will solve energy problems. “While the idea of waste-to-energy sounds appealing because of the energy crisis, it doesn’t make sense to me,” Melissa Kriegerfox, president of the Indiana Recycling Coalition, said. “Whatever we’re burning is taken from resources again.”
Incinerators that produce energy by burning waste act as a final method of disposal Kriegerfox explained. When plastic is burned, more plastic has to be made using up petroleum. When plastic is recycled, it reduces the amount of petroleum used to produce new plastic. Petroleum is a nonrenewable resource. Burning paper has the same impact. If paper is recycled, deforestation is minimized. But if it is burned, more trees must be cut to produce new paper.
A more recent bill has been introduced to provide tax relief for individuals and companies that practice waste-to-energy. Bill 496 states that a taxpayer be eligible to receive credit for any investment made to purchase or operate a waste-to-energy facility or equipment. Kriegerfox said that IRC is “keeping an eye on it [Bill 496]” as more action is taken.
“Our issue isn’t for or against waste-to-energy, but that they aren’t considering using recycling funds for such projects and proposing change to the solid waste hierarchy,” Kriegerfox said. “This bill doesn’t do any of those things.”
For more information on recycling visit www.defendrecycling.org. To better understand how the bill process works visit www.in.gov/idem/rules/involved.html. And to keep up with Bill 154 visit www.in.gov/apps/lsa/session/billwatch/billinfo.