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Recycling and Composting

image of estimated recycling and composting collection amounts for Indiana

Recycling and composting markets account for 1.7 million tons of the state’s municipal solid waste (MSW) generation. About 2/3 of the tonnage originates from regional MRFsheds, the areas around a material recovery facility (MRF) that funnels recyclables to a particular MRF. Other tonnage originates from wood waste and organics for animal bedding, mulch, and compost. State policy supports recycling of MSW over landfill disposal and incineration.

A listing of 14 Indiana MRFs is given in the report, Indiana Recycling Infrastructure and Economic Impact Study. See Table 1C-1 2019 MRF Tonnage in the report for recycling tonnages. Source-separated materials are the largest source of recyclables mainly consisting of fiber (packaging/OCC) from the industrial, commercial, institutional (ICI) sectors.

Specifically, Indiana has seven MRFs that supply nearly all the in-state sorting of single stream recyclables such as from residential curbside collection. Total shipments of recyclables sorted by these MRFs were 207,384 tons in 2020, down from 218,796 tons in 2019. In addition, transfer stations may combine recyclables for shipment to out-of-state MRFs or ship source-separated recyclables directly to manufacturers/end users.

Solid waste management district/government facilities as well as private facilities with staff support may run a community recycling hub for receiving source-separated and/or single stream recyclables from drop-off, curbside, and/or commercial accounts. They may supply route collection for drop-off and curbside services. These facilities are small-scale with minimal sorting capability to collect, compact/bale, and ship recyclables.

Direct hauls to end-use markets are another significant source of recyclables such as generated from big-box retail distribution centers (e.g., Target, Walmart) and manufacturing facilities, in which case the reporting is voluntary and not tracked through the MRFshed. Also, metal salvage yards as a recycler facility are exempted from mandatory reporting of recyclables from MSW.

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