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Nonprofit lobbies state to release recycling funds

– An Indiana nonprofit is lobbying the state legislature to release recycling funds frozen during a budget crisis in 2008, arguing that the money could be used for economic development in the state.

The nonprofit Indiana Recycling Coalition met with Senate Appropriations Chairman Luke Kenley, R-Noblesville, this week to discuss what to do about money intended for recycling that is sitting in the state bank account.

According to the state auditor, the fund contains about $12.1 million, which the coalition says could pay for recycling programs and give Indiana manufacturers greater access to recycled materials.

The coalition is asking for $3.4 million a year for these purposes, said Carey Hamilton, executive director of the organization. Money in the fund comes from waste management fees.

Hamilton said the money also could help create recycling-processing jobs.

“Recycling in general is a jobs engine,” she said. “When a company decides to recycle material instead of throw it away, they hire people to process that material. The investment of these dollars will not only create new material, but jobs.”

In 2008, the state shifted millions of dollars from the fund to help offset shortfalls caused by the recession.

Recycling advocates lobbied in 2010 to release some of the frozen funds. State officials awarded $500,000 worth of grants that brought recycling jobs to the state.

“It doesn’t do us any good if the money is frozen and not in circulation,” said state Sen. Jean Breaux, D-Indianapolis, who supported the funding release in 2010.

Hamilton said the money could go toward programs that collect glass, plastic and aluminum beverage containers from bars and restaurants.

“The direct impact would be to quickly improve access to recycling across the state,” she said. “And, just as importantly, to do a better job of getting particular commodities to Indiana manufacturers to compete in the global marketplace when they have recycled materials.”