Plant closure spurs call to step back from Indy’s Covanta deal

Source: Hayleigh Colombo, Indianaplis Business Journal, October 12, 2015

A recycling plant in Montgomery, Alabama, that Indianapolis officials once touted as a successful model of “one-bin” combined waste and recycling has temporarily shut down, citing a drop in the commodities market. … Covanta’s deal with Indianapolis to harvest recyclables from residents’ trash before the remaining garbage is incinerated has run into stiff opposition from area recycling advocates. The Infinitus closure should prompt Indianapolis officials to “step back from” the Covanta deal, since the company has touted the Montgomery facility as a comparable model to Indianapolis’, said Carey Hamilton, executive director of the Indiana Recycling Coalition.

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A Dirty MRF for Indy? Politics Abound
Source: Lori Lovely, MSW Management, Vol 25 no. 1, January-February 2015

The contract for a materials recovery facility raises questions, eyebrows, and ire among recycling businesses and organizations in Indianapolis.

Controversy swirls around the recent contract between the city of Indianapolis, IN, and Covanta to allow the building of a $45 million materials recovery facility to sort recyclables from municipal solid waste. Commonly referred to as “dirty MRFs,” these facilities enable residents to throw trash and recyclables into one curbside receptacle.

The argument begins with semantics. While James Regan, director of communications for Covanta, and Marc Lotter, director of communications for Mayor Greg Ballard, consider the contract a “14-year extension of the current agreement,” Carey Hamilton, executive director of Indiana Recycling Coalition (IRC), expresses concern that it’s being handled as a contract amendment/extension instead of a new contract, because that means it can circumvent city council approval.

No matter how it’s described, the contract, which runs through 2028, raises issues with its detractors, who complain that they had little time to review it and that it didn’t go through a public vetting process before it went up for vote by the Board of Public Works, most of whom were appointed by the mayor.

What opponents dub an “unproven recycling system,” the mayor’s office has defended as a low-cost method to improve diversion rates in a city with a historically low recycling record.

City sued over $45M recycling center deal
Source: Fox59 and Indy Star, September 11, 2014

A lawsuit has been filed against the City of Indianapolis over a recently finalized recycling contract.
In August, the city agreed to a deal with Covanta worth an estimated $112 million. Two paper companies and an Indianapolis resident are listed as plaintiffs in the lawsuit. The city is accused of violating requirements for bidding and public notice. The suing parties are trying to put the brakes on the deal that includes building a $45 million recycling facility. An attorney for the plaintiffs declined to comment….