LETTER: Response to Covanta

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I am responding to a November 13 letter to the editor by Scott Holkeboer, the market area vice president for Covanta in Indianapolis. As a resident of Indianapolis, I am passionately against the $45 million “Covanta Advanced Recycling Facility” and would like to encourage many from our DePauw community to oppose this plan. While the idea of eliminating recycling bins and instead throwing everything in the trash and letting a company sort out the recyclables later may seem good to some, there are three issues Holkeboer did not mention. 

First, the Indiana Recycling Coalition is in firm opposition to the plan. When an organization that’s been advocating for recycling in Indiana (not an easy job) for 25 years is adamantly opposed to a “recycling solution,” that should raise a red flag. 

Second, Covanta will have a contractual monopoly on “recycling” in Indianapolis for an incredible 14 years. Any new recycling program the city supports (like recycling glass, for example, because Covanta has already said they won’t recycle glass) will result in a $4 million fine from Covanta to the taxpayers of Indianapolis. Yes, you read that right. 

Lastly, the 500% increase in recycling Covanta touts is a superficial and unenforceable number. According to Carey Hamilton, the president of the Indianapolis Recycling Coalition, the city of Indianapolis had grant and loan offers in place from Governor Pence and private funders to make free curbside recycling accessible to everyone in the city. Instead, Mayor Ballard is choosing Covanta, where our recycled paper will get mixed with diapers and pet waste. The quality of recycled materials will decrease dramatically, and that’s why many companies that utilize recycled material are opposed to this plan. That’s also why two paper suppliers are suing the city of Indianapolis over this contract. 

Instead of Indianapolis competing to be a leader of sustainable practices in the Midwest, we will be taking ourselves out of the race for 14 years. Instead of providing more ways to recycle for future generations, we will be perpetuating a system of wastefulness.  

There’s still time to stop this awful plan. Please e-mail me at michaelmetzger_2016@depauw.edu if you are from Indianapolis and want to help.