(original letter below, IBJ’s published version HERE)
Congratulations to Mayor Joe Hogsett and his team for listening to the city’s residents and hitting the brakes on a Covanta deal that would have sent out ripples affecting the environment, worker attraction, job creation and more.
The decision to suspend the trash/recycling deal with Covanta shows the mayor is dedicated to responding to his constituents, doing business in the public view and doing what’s best for the long-term interests of the city.
While the Covanta deal could have looked like progress in that it would theoretically engage every household in recycling, industry research and experience is clear: The downsides to this approach offset any possible benefit. Under its plan, Covanta would not have separated glass for recycling (instead incinerating it) or recycled a majority of the paper and many plastics typically collected in curbside recycling. In addition, Covanta’s process would yield lower-quality versions of the recycled material many Indiana manufacturers rely on in their businesses.
The effects would have gone well beyond residents’ trash cans.
The proposed Covanta plan would have sent the wrong messages to talented young millennials—prized job recruits who choose where to live based on values such as environmental sustainability. They wouldn’t be impressed to learn that our city doesn’t recycle glass or a majority of paper and plastics.
It would have also hurt the 77 firms that use recycled materials in their manufacturing process, and the 35,000 Hoosiers who rely on those firms for jobs. In fact, a recent study showed that, while incinerating (Covanta’s primary business) 10,000 tons of trash can create eight jobs, recycling that same amount of paper creates 70 jobs, recycling that much glass generates 110 jobs, and recycling that tonnage of plastics creates 140 jobs.
Finally, the deal would fail our environment by failing to recycle all that we could.
For these reasons, we applaud the mayor for listening to his city and suspending the ill-conceived Covanta deal. Now we can once again focus on developing a recycling program that meets the standards of today’s sought-after workers and tomorrow’s leaders—one that serves the environment, creates jobs, supports our manufacturers and increases quality of life.
Mike Cunningham President/CEO Cunningham Restaurant Group Ken Honeywell President Well Done Marketing Rachael Hoover Lekic Director of Sustainability Patachou Inc. Larry Jones President Teagen Development, Inc. Kelly Pfledderer Founder and former CEO Apparatus Clay Robinson Owner Sun King Brewery Phillip Terry CEO Monarch Beverage Company