Indianapolis QOL!

A couple of exciting announcements in the last several days: Indy is looking to be bike-friendly and environmentally sustainable! I received these press releases through various email lists.

Indy Bikeways

Important Bicycling Announcement by Mayor Ballard on Wednesday, Oct 15, 2008, 9:30am

Mayor Ballard will soon have a press conference where he will announce his intention to make Indianapolis a bicycle friendly city and endorse the 4-phase bike lane plan for the City of Indianapolis. This plan, currently dubbed Indy Bikeways, will provide over 200 miles of bike lanes in Marion County over the next 15 years.

We want to make sure that as many cyclists as possible come to this event to show our support for the Indy Bikeways Plan! This is the best way to say thanks to Mayor Ballard for this endorsement and to assure him this is a popular decision among his constituents. His announcement will occur on Wednesday, Oct 15th at 9:30 am and will be held in the triangular park formed by the intersection of Mass Ave and Michigan Street (just north across the street from the Athenaeum). His announcement coincides with the start of the bike lane striping for New York and Michigan Streets. This project, along with the bike lanes on Allisonville Road, represents Phase 1 of the Indy Bikeways Plan.

I’m going to try to make it to the bike announcement, though it is during work hours. Gotta flex the schedule a bit.

Environmental Sustainability Initiative


INDIANAPOLIS – The City of Indianapolis will join several leaders of the environmental community to announce the City’s aggressive new greening plan and sustainability initiative.

What: Press conference to announce new sustainability initiative

Who: Mayor Greg Ballard

When: Friday, October 10, 2008

Where: City Market Courtyard
222 E. Market Street

Mayor Ballard recognizes that environmental sustainability is a key strategy to make sure that Indianapolis continues to be competitive in a changing world. Cities that are successful in addressing these matters have found that they can:

* Deliver long-term cost savings
* Build the local economy
* Improve community quality of life
* Enhance the local environment and public health

These objectives support The Ballard Rules, and specifically further three key Mayoral priorities: taxpayer cost-savings, community economic development, and improving neighborhood quality of life.

This one is quite lofty and vague, but you have to recognize the merit of the idea before you can get anywhere with it, so I choose to think positively!

In related news, I toured Republic’s Montcalm St. recycling facility a couple of weeks ago through arrangements from a group at work. They process 100 tons of recyclable material daily, and plan to build a new facility that will handle ten times that much! It’s a very loud, thankless operation, and I am glad the workers are willing to do such a hard job. Some general info here and a pdf with facts and figures here. Things I learned:

    I’ve been taking my #3-7 plastics to IRF on West St. Apparently Republic is now picking up this stuff from IRF, so I may as well put it in with my #1-2. The #3-7 is harder to process but at this time they are able to set it aside and get it to a facility that will take it. One of the biggest issues with these plastics is getting them clean, since they often have food residue (yogurt, butter) remaining.
    Republic can take some phonebooks after all, just not a lot.
    Indianapolis residents using Republic’s curbside recycling service will soon be getting big wheeled toters for their recycling instead of the small bins. They will be picked up biweekly with automated trucks, which saves on trucks/drivers/gas/emissions. And they will take cardboard! That’ll save me another trip to the cardboard satellite dumpsters.
    Downstream (at other facilities) the machinery can accept plastic bottles with lids still on, but if you send in your water bottles with water still in them, the Republic folks have to hand open and empty them! Don’t send partially-full bottles please.
    The new facility will have sorting machines to segregate colored plastics from colorless, which can be sold at different (higher) prices, and there are also machines that can visually sort different colors of glass.
    Don’t segregate your recyclables in plastic bags. They have to be hand-opened or the bags clog up the machinery.

The facility operates with a series of conveyor belts. Items pass along conveyors with shakers (to shake out loose broken glass and prevent injuries to workers), then past an inspection line of workers who pull out trash and odd items (we saw them removing a metal porch railing from the belt). Then the belt goes under a big rotating magnet that pulls out the steel items. Next a blower sends all the lightweight stuff (plastic bottles, aluminum cans) up one way and the heavier items (like glass) go down another belt. The huge cage of lightweight items separates cans from bottles somehow (weight again? charge? I forget), and then workers have to manually separate the #1 and #2 plastics to different streams. In the end they have big piles of each type of recyclable. Items like foil are recycled separately from cans, and big heavy plastics like kitty litter containers are separate from water bottles. Some items have to be paid to be taken away; it’s not all profitable, but it does keep 100 tons of waste out of landfills daily. They bale each type of item and ship to processing facilities, some in the Chicago area, but overall they try to use Indiana facilities as much as possible. They do all this with about 65 employees on 2.5 shifts. It’s loud, smelly, non-climate-controlled work. At one point bits of broken glass rained on our heads as we walked through the plant.

Even with limitations on what actually makes money (and it’s no joke we pay a fair amount each month for the curbside service), the facility is able to recycle 93+% of what comes in the door. Think of all the trash people include in their recycling–I found this number impressive. They even set aside those weird items like porch railings that never should have been in the recycling dumpsters in the first place, getting them to the metals recyclers that can handle the material.

Keep on saving the planet! Perhaps we should work on reducing, since we seem to understand the recycling part?

1 thought on “Indianapolis QOL!

  1. I’d definitely be more willing to become a cyclist if the city was built for it. I’m scared to drive on some roads — I can’t imagine biking on them.

    I’m thinking I may need to look up these “Ballard Rules” the release mentions.

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