Indianapolis is one of the only major metropolitan areas without a curbside recycling program that reaches all households. A Commission on Environmental Sustainability heard presentations about the current and future state of recycling.
City-County Councilor John Barth (D) chairs the commission.
"I think everyone would agree that we don’t have a strong program here in Indianapolis but we could also look at that as an opportunity," Barth said.
Only 11 percent of residents subscribe to the city’s voluntary recycling service. Recycling drop off areas are often used for illegal dumping.
Indianapolis Department of Public Works Director Dan Parker said education and awareness are key parts of the future plan.
"This needs to be a cultural shift for the city," Parker said. "It needs to be built into our culture that we recycle first and throw away second."
The city is currently under contract with Republic Services. The city plans to have a universal curbside program in place by 2025, when the contract expires.
Indiana Recycling Coalition Executive Director Allyson Mitchell said residents want a better program.
"It still holds us back from a broader consensus reputation that we are a sustainable city when we don’t have affordable, accessible recycling for everyone," Mitchell said.
Mitchell said a successful program would create jobs and improve sustainability.
The environmental commission will make recommendations to the council.