INDIANAPOLIS (WISH) — Hundreds of people from across the Midwest on Wednesday talked about recycling and ways Indiana can be better at it.

Allyson Mitchel, executive director of the Indiana Recycling Coalition, said, “(Plastic) 1s and 2s, highly recyclable. Definitely put those in your recycling bin.” 

The coalition leader said at the statewide nonprofit group’s Wednesday conference that it eventually wants 50% of the state to recycle. Today, the amount is just shy of 17%.

“We really work a lot with folks in the industry, with local governments and with individuals who are looking to recycle properly,” Mitchell said. 

The conference sought to teach the best practices to people whose jobs are based on recycling. “To help them understand the impact they can have on the circular economy and the state of Indiana.” Mitchell said.

Daniel Vankor came all the way from Oconomowoc, Wisconsin, for the conference.

“How we reuse, reduce and recycle things and create a whole economy within that structure,” Vankor said. “Instead of manufacturing new and trying to reuse material that’s already out in the marketplace.”

Elizabeth Attebery and Karen Smith came from Terre Haute to figure out how to prevent people from  recycling dirty glass and plastics at their Indiana State University plant.

“I learned that we need more signs. We need more communication,” Attebery said. “We need to have more knowledge of how to recycle, what to recycle and where to put it.”

To that end, Mitchell offered a couple of tips:

  • Bring your own bags to the grocery.
  • Bring your own take-home container to a restaurant, to cut down on Styrofoam use.
  • “Aluminum cans are highly recyclable. They will become a new beverage can after you have recycled them.”

“There’s some other things that should not be in here (a recycle bin),” Mitchell said. “This is a common misconception. People say ‘Oh, plastic is recyclable, so, I will put my plastic in the recycling bin.’ This is plastic film. It’s flexible-plastic packaging. It is recyclable, but not in your recycling bin.”

Stores accept flexible-plastic packaging for recycling, Mitchell said. 

Mitchell said the Indiana Recycling Coalition is awaiting state and local funding to create a statewide online master recycler program that will teach people about recycling topics. The hope is to launch later this year.

Mitchell said the Indiana Recycling Coalition is also working with Indianapolis organizations to create a solid waste management district.