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Recycling Rates

image of national recycling rates compared to Indiana state recycling rate

The circular economy embraces sustainable materials management of MSW and has become a vision for the nation and state. Recycling is a crucial part of the circular economy, which offers local investments, avoids unwanted waste accumulation in the environment, creates jobs, and conserves resources/energy. This supports the transition to renewable energy and net-zero carbon emissions in the future.

U.S. EPA has set a goal to increase the national recycling rate from 32 to 50% by 2030. The National Recycling Strategy: Part One of a Series on Building a Circular Economy - Join the Effort | US EPA encourages entities to Take Action | US EPA to lead or support one or more National Recycling Strategy actions. Also, new funding programs support recycling infrastructure improvements and education/outreach activities.

Indiana has a 50% recycling goal for municipal waste and requires mandatory reporting of solid waste and recycling data to track progress but does not have a set date to achieve the results. The current MSW generation has a 19% recycling rate and needs to divert from disposal another 2.7 million tons for reduce, reuse, and recycling to meet the recycling goal. Supporting steps include:

  • Shipments of recyclables for commodity markets may need to increase from about 1 million tons per year to 2-3 million tons per year. This requires expanding Material Recovery Facility (MRF) operations and collecting more material from residential and the industrial, commercial, institutional (ICI) sectors.
  • Expand efforts to divert organics and food waste from landfills. Recycling pathways include second helpings, anaerobic digestion, and composting.
  • Account for unreported recyclables collected outside of the MRFshed, such as from distribution centers and large manufacturers with direct hauling of recyclables to manufacturers/end users.

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