What's a good way to recycle more containers? Recycle an old idea.
That's the recommendation of Indiana's aluminum and glass industry representatives. They told a panel of Indiana lawmakers this month that requiring a deposit on recyclable containers like cans and bottles would persuade people to turn them back in.
Currently, fewer than half of the cans and bottles sold in Indiana are returned for recycling. A deposit could boost that recycling rate to 90 percent.
Keeping recyclable containers out of landfills serves two aims. It not only saves space in landfills for the material that truly belongs there, but it also means fewer raw materials have to be used to make new containers.
Sally Lambert, an Alcoa representative, told the state panel that recycling empty cans uses less energy and fewer resources than manufacturing a new can from scratch.
Each year, Indiana dumps enough aluminum in landfills to build 750 airplanes, Lamberth said. Those 35 million pounds of aluminum are worth about $30 million.
Muncie-based glass maker Verallia North America has resorted to importing recycled glass from Iowa and Canada to make new bottles because Hoosier recycling rates are so law, Verallia representative Stephen Segebarth said.
State Sen. Frank Mrvan, D-Hammond, said the logistics of a recycling program would be difficult to set up.
Requiring a deposit on containers and setting up a means to refund the deposit would require the cooperation of Hoosier retailers. They should be brought into this discussion right away.
This does represent government intrusion in private business, but it needs to be done. Indiana cannot continue to have a dismal recycling rate.