Indiana Recycling Coalition

Taylor Haggerty / WBAA News

After West Lafayette’s recycling drop-off center closed earlier this year, local officials struggled to find a way to meet demand from residents. The closure coincided with a nationwide upheaval as China stopped accepting materials from the United States.

China’s decision has had far-reaching effects, with major recycling centers closing or halting operation in multiple states.

Despite being a landlocked state that didn’t do much work with China, Indiana has also felt the impact. China’s decision has created a glut in the market – so even if facilities process materials, they may not have any buyers.

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This year’s Indiana Recycling Coalition Conference focused less on recycling and more on the other two R’s — reduce and reuse. China’s refusal to take the United States’ low-grade recycling is forcing some communities to think about a more holistic approach. 

Steve Burns / WTIU/WFIU News

 

One after another, restaurants, businesses and even communities are dropping plastic straws. The immediate goal is to reduce the hundreds of millions of plastic straws estimated to be used in the country each day.

But some people are thinking much bigger, and they’re hopeful the straw movement will lead to an overall reduction in all plastic use.

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Indiana Recycling Coalition / http://www.indianarecycling.org/recycle/indiana-food-scrap-initiative/

An estimated 35 million tons of food is discarded each year in the U.S., equaling $165 billion in food waste, according to the Indiana Recycling Coalition.

A new program launched this week, the Indiana Food Scrap Initiative, will work with organizations that generate a lot of food waste, such as grocery stores, and help them find resources for composting the food.

Indiana Recycling Coalition executive director Carey Hamilton says they hope working on a larger scale will eventually inspire individuals to participate as well.