$45m Single Bin Recycling Plant to be Reassessed : Indianapolis Suspends Covanta Advanced Recycling Center Plan

Covanta indianapolis waste to energy recycling

The City of Indianapolis and Covanta Indianapolis, Inc. have reached an agreement to temporarily suspend a proposed Advanced Recycling Center (ARC).

The decision was announced by Indianapolis Mayor Joe Hogsett.

“Leadership begins with listening, and I believe Indianapolis deserves a true community conversation before we move forward with any waste and recycling plan,” said Hogsett.

“I appreciate Covanta’s willingness to agree to this effort as we work toward a long-term solution that best serves our neighborhoods and our environment,” he added.

The ARC, previously hailed by former Mayor, Greg Ballard, as part of his plan to bring recycling to all single family homes in Indianapolis, had been planned to be built adjacent to Covanta’s existing waste to energy facility, and was designed to recover recyclables from mixed municipal solid waste.

However, the planned facility, to have been located on Covanta’s Indianapolis campus, had drawn controversy for its single bin system and for its financial lock ins,.

According to a report by the Indy Star the deal, which extended Covanta's existing contract to process Indianapolis’s waste at its waste to energy plant, locked the city into a $112 million commitment through 2028 - a contract which would have seen the city agree to a $4 million annual penalty if it implemented a recycling program.

"What I see in the announcement today is that there’s an opportunity to renegotiate how we handle waste and recycling in our city," Carey Hamilton, executive director of the Indiana Recycling Coalition was reported to have said. "And that must include removing any financial penalties to recycle."

The Indy Star also reported Mike McQuillen, council minority leader and a Republican, to have said: "On a positive note, I will say that if they (the Hogsett administration) saw a place where they could negotiate an even better deal for the taxpayers of Indianapolis, I would be supportive. I would hope it was an opportunity to save some money, rather than a 'let’s dismantle the Ballard legacy' type situation."

Mayor Hogsett said that the city will now gather information over the next 90 days to assist with a reassessment of plans for an ARC facility.

To facilitate this process, the Hogsett administration said that it will meet with local groups and key stakeholders, ensuring that all voices are included in a conversation over the future of recycling in Indianapolis.

Covanta Indianapolis has offered information-gathering assistance to city officials during the suspension of the ARC, and Covanta’s pre-existing service agreements with the city will remain in effect.

The Office of Corporation Counsel will continue to defend the city’s ability to negotiate with Covanta in pending litigation.

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