Updated: Nov 4, 2021
Indianapolis is at risk of becoming the most wasteful big city in America.
It already wastes the greatest portion of its recyclable trash among any of the 20 biggest cities, and many recycle far, far more.
How bad is it? In San Francisco, the top recycling city, 80 percent of the trash is reused. In Seattle, almost all residents participate in the program, reusing nearly 60 percent of the waste. The national average is 35 percent.
And in Indianapolis? Only 7 percent is recycled.
IndyStar gathered and analyzed recycling rates — the percentage of waste that is kept from the landfill or incinerator — for the 50 most populous cities in the country. Urban areas from New York City to Houston, Portland to Milwaukee and Phoenix to Columbus typically recycle as much as 20 or 30 percent of their waste, and some much more.
Indy — the nation’s 14th largest city — is the biggest municipality without a curbside recycling program serving every household. And only two of the top 50 cities — Detroit and New Orleans — recycle slightly less than Indianapolis.