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Public Works Board Approves Covanta Recycling Plan

The Indianapolis Board of Public Works has approved Covanta's plan to build a $45 million recycling facility. 

The board greenlit the deal negotiated by Republican Mayor Greg Ballard's administration by a vote of four-to-one Wednesday. The project means roughly $112 million in revenue for Covanta which is poised to become the city's top provider of residential recycling for 14 years. 

Indianapolis Office of Sustainability Director Melody Park says the Covanta facility, which would be constructed on Harding Street, is an "add on" that supplements the city's existing recycling programs that include curbside and free drop off recycling and tox dropoff. 

The Ballard administration argues that through the Covanta deal, the city's recycling recovery rate would leap from just over five percent to 18 percent at no additional cost to taxpayers. The city would continue to collect residential waste and Covanta would separate recyclables and sell them. 

Board member Greg Garrett was the lone opponent of the deal.  He argued the city would be locked in a contract for more than a decade and the recycling stream would be compromised by the collection process, that includes organic waste, which would result in low quality recycled goods. Garrett says the city stands to lose out big by continuing to sell out utilities like water, power and light, parking meters and now recycling. 

Meantime, board member Dennis Rosebrough countered by saying if recycling and recovery rates are the goal, the Covanta deal is a bold step in the right director for recycling overall. 

The city project still requires construction permits which are basically a formality.

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