Indy may offer free curbside recycling

The recycling pile outside my house. Just kidding.

  • Photo by Fruggo, via Wikimedia Commons
  • The recycling pile outside my house. Just kidding.

If you're like me, you've got a pile of recycling that's been steadily accumulating since winter.

That's because, like a lot of people I'm guessing, I'm just conscientious enough to separate my recycling, but just lazy enough that I don't want to drive it all the way to Broad Ripple Park — where I'll then have to sort it one soggy, slimy, ketchup- or yogurt-covered item at a time.

I'm also just poor enough that I can't pay the monthly fee to have it picked up at my home. At present, I think I'm up to five full-sized trash bags, in a pile by my shed — at least three of which have been torn open by raccoons.

But even if you aren't as bad as I am, you have to welcome the news that the city is considering expanding its woefully ineffective recycling program.

According to WRTV, city officials and local waste haulers are currently in talks to come up with a new plan that could offer residents free, curbside recycling. Talks are expected to last another three weeks:

In Marion County, less than 10 percent of waste is recycled, said Carey Hamilton, executive director of the Indiana Recycling Coalition.

"Right now, it's not a pretty picture," she said. "Its just disappointing that we're still in the single digits as far as recycling rates go. Many cities of our size in the country are recycling upwards of 30 (percent) to 50 (percent), even sometimes 70 percent."

Those are abysmal numbers for our city. As the WRTV report notes, Nalgene, a re-usable water bottle maker, recently ranked Indianapolis 21st out of 25 in its second annual Least Wasteful Cities Study.

In a 2008 ranking by Popular Science Magazine of America's 50 Greenest Cities, Indianapolis didn't even make the list.

But developments like these are encouraging. As noted here previously, the state recently released $500,000 back into the Indiana Recycling Market Development Program — taken from a whopping $11 million in funds that were suspended to make up for budget shortfalls last year.

Molly Deuberry, a spokeswoman for the Department of Public Works, told me the two developments were unrelated, and that the current talks were driven by Mayor Greg Ballard's desire to expand curbside recycling citywide.

That half-a-million in restored state funding is better than nothing, but it's not likely to go too far: 500k is a drop in the bucket, really, compared with the $10.5 million yet to be restored. It's good, then, to see the mayor taking the lead by making this latest push on his own.

Let's hope he and city waste haulers come through. Maybe I won't have to hand-sort those soggy bags of garbage after all.