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Science and Environment

Indiana recycling group's name change reflects need to address waste holistically

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The Indiana Recycling Coalition also used the day to announce its name change to Circular Indiana. (Courtesy of Circular Indiana)

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Gov. Eric Holcomb is highlighting the importance of recycling by declaring Nov. 15 America Recycles Day in Indiana. Holcomb said the nationally-recognized day is an opportunity for Hoosiers to commit to reducing waste, making recycling a habit, and purchasing recycled products.

Though recycling has gone up in the state in the past five years, only 20 percent of Indiana’s waste was recycled last year. That’s far from the state’s goal of 50 percent.

The Indiana Recycling Coalition also used the day to announce its name change. 

Allyson Mitchell is the executive director of what’s now called Circular Indiana. She said when China stopped taking low-quality recycling from the U.S. in 2017, it exposed a global issue — that very little of product packaging is actually recyclable.

"So there’s a need to rethink our relationship to recycling and we can’t just rely on recycling to save the day when it comes to how we manage our materials," Mitchell said.

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Mitchell said the name Circular Indiana better aligns with its mission to strengthen what’s called the "circular economy."

The circular economy puts more responsibility on industries to deal with their products once consumers are done with them. Making companies more likely to design products that can be recycled, repaired, or reused.

Still, Mitchell said recycling is an important activity and that the organization doesn't plan to abandon recycling objectives any time soon. 

Contact reporter Rebecca at rthiele@iu.edu or follow her on Twitter at @beckythiele.

Indiana Environmental reporting is supported by the Environmental Resilience Institute, an Indiana University Grand Challenge project developing Indiana-specific projections and informed responses to problems of environmental change.
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