The Indianapolis Board of Public Works is getting feedback on a proposed new recycling project.
Covanta plans to build a roughly $45 million facility to sort out recyclables before trash goes to the incinerator.
But, opponents think there are better recycling options for the city, including expanding curb side service.
For about an hour, the Board listened to those for and against the project.
Covanta Business Manager Scott Holkeboer says if the project is approved, 100 percent of single family residences will automatically enroll, and anticipates that will increase recycling by 500 percent.
"In 2013, Gov. (Mike) Pence set a goal of recycling 50 percent of Indiana's waste stream. Only Covanta's proposal is guaranteed to move Indianapolis closer to that goal without a tax increase," he said. "Our proposal would significantly increase the amount of trash that is recycled without anyone having to pay for it."
Those who spoke in opposition applauded the goal to increase participation and volume of recyclables, but question whether the project will achieve the goal and may keep residents from using the curbside service.
Fran McPoland with the Paper Recycling Coalition, a Washington D.C. trade group, says Covanta’s project won’t work.
"We have reviewed that advanced recycling center proposal and given our experience we know that it will not provide the quality materials we need," she said. "It is risky and unproven. It is neither advanced nor recycling."
Covanta says residents can still pay $6 a month for curbside service or take recyclables to drop off spots.
Neal Burnett of Midwest Constructors, the company working with Covanta on the project, believes this is the most efficient way to expand recycling in the city.
"In my experience, there are not too many city projects of this magnitude that will put people, families to work without costing tax payers or families a single dime," he said. "On the contrary, Covanta's ARC requires zero capital investment from the city and no cost to our families or residents."
Burnett is one of more than a dozen people who spoke on the issue during the Board of Public Works meeting.
Lindsay Shipps with Citizen’s Action Coalition is against the project because of its impact on the environment.
"CAC remains extraordinarily concerned that Indy would chose to add to its already neglected air quality by allowing an otherwise clean process to be mired in 19th century technology that is incineration," she said. "We stand ready to assist in finding a workable, sensible solution in order to give Indy programs that will be, by textbook definition, sustainable."
The Board of Public Works did not vote on the project and has not scheduled a date to make a decision, yet.