Updated: Sep 15, 2021
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Many of Indiana’s breakthroughs in recycling would not exist without Carey Hamilton’s passion and leadership. While she now serves in the Indiana House of Representatives, thousands today still benefit from her time as the Executive Director for the Indiana Recycling Coalition.
In 2008, Hamilton became the IRC’s first full-time executive director. She evolved the IRC from a grassroots group into a professionally staffed nonprofit and more than tripled the IRC’S budget.
Under Hamilton’s leadership, an IRC-led industry coalition effectively advocated for Indiana’s first electronics recycling law in 2009.
Hamilton created awareness about the economic benefits of recycling by presenting recycling as a job generator and economic engine. She commissioned a job study which determined that a 25% increase in recycling would create 10,000 new jobs in Indiana. This study, together with IRC efforts in the Statehouse, led to increased recycling funding and a statewide recycling goal in 2014.
Her biggest accomplishment, perhaps, was her role in the Indianapolis “dirty recycling” battle. From 2014-2015, Hamilton led local and national opposition to a global incineration company’s “dirty recycling” plan for Indianapolis. The multi-pronged advocacy, publicity and legal campaign was successful in defeating the ill-conceived plan, and set the stage for effective curbside recycling in Indiana’s largest city.
Twice during her leadership, the IRC won the National Recycling Coalition’s State Recycling Organization of the Year award.
In 2016, Hamilton was elected to the Indiana House of Representatives, and in 2018 she stepped down from the IRC to focus on legislative work.
Hamilton considers herself fortunate to have worked on environmental issues over the years. This work continues today in her legislative role.
“It’s very rewarding to make the economic argument to help advance recycling and other environmental and public health policies,” she said. “Whether it’s recycling or clean energy, good environmental policy supports a healthier planet while creating good jobs and a stronger economy.”
In the coming years, Hamilton hopes to help drive policy to support recycling programs across the state. “Recycling is crucial for building a stronger, more sustainable economy,” she said.
This hope for a more sustainable Indiana is what drives Hamilton to continue to utilize her leadership and experience to effect change as a legislative ally, most recently by organizing the Youth Climate Action Day at the Statehouse and presenting her Climate Resolution. The Hoosier state is sure to benefit from her efforts for many years to come.
Written by Erin Edwards