FINANCE: Indiana Funds Recycling Progress

To help reach its 50 percent waste diversion goal by 2001, the Indiana Department of Commerce, Indianapolis, is offering newly expanded zero-interest loans and special grants to build demand for recyclables in the state's marketplace.

Currently, the state diverts approximately 34 percent of its waste stream. The cornerstone of the Department of Commerce's Recycling Market Development Program has provided zero-interest loans up to $500,000, with a 50 percent match required, to 31 Indiana companies since 1991. These Recycling Promotion and Assistance Fund (RPAF) loans are used to purchase equipment to manufacture recycled-content products and prepare material such as rubber, plastic, wood and newspaper to use as feedstock.

When fully functional, the recycling projects funded by these loans and grants will provide approximately $110 million in total investment, create 513 jobs and divert almost 1.1 million tons of recyclable materials from Indiana landfills.

For example, Evansville, Ind.-based Quality Thermoplastics Reprocessors Inc., (QTR), received a $440,000 loan to use toward a $1.5 million project investment. As a result, QTR was able to reprocess almost 4,000 tons of plastic in 1999. Another company, Morristown, Ind.- based EFTEC Inc., received a $500,000 loan to help fund its $8.6 million project that will make a product from 5,200 tons of scrap fiberglass that previously was going directly into an Indiana landfill. The project also will create 22 new jobs.

Aiming to attract large, successful recycled-content manufacturers, the state now offers RPAF loans up to $1 million. However, eligible projects must provide a new market for hard-to-recycle priority materials, show significant waste-diversion potential and have a proven technical, marketing and financial record. Expanding these RPAF projects will increase the recycling infrastructure, reduce transportation costs and provide markets for material currently being landfilled.

Through newly developed grants, Indiana also encourages companies to increase their waste-reduction efforts and consider options that might not otherwise be investigated. The state offers a $6,000 "Three Rs" grant for businesses to assess ways to recycle, reuse and use recycled-content materials. A $100,000 grant is awarded to test new, commercially viable ideas for recycled-content feedstocks, reuse or reduction.

To get recycled-content products on the shelf and into purchasers' hands, a $30,000 grant is available to recycled-content manufacturers that develop or implement a marketing plan. And, to close the recycling loop, a $5,000 grant encourages government to buy recycled, either as a trial or demonstration project.

These loan and grant programs are funded by a 50 cents/ton surcharge on landfill tipping fees. The Commerce Recycling Market Development Program receives half of the resources for the programs. The Indiana Department of Environmental Management uses the remaining 50 percent for grants to assist in collecting recyclables.

With Indiana's growing recycling industry, markets are available for metals, glass, plastic and paper. Priority materials include construction and demolition scrap, wood, plastics, mixed glass, tires, coal combustion materials and foundry sand.

Indiana's challenge is to build a recycling infrastructure that provides stable markets to support commercial, industrial and consumer recycling. The foundation of this effort will be to integrate the recycling mentality into Indiana's citizens' and businesses' lives.

With these new programs, Indiana currently is focusing on large-scale, industrial waste producers and recyclers to further stimulate recycling and waste reduction - all in an effort to move closer to its 50 percent diversion goal.