A look inside Republic Services’ north Indy recycling facility


Recyclables collected in the Republic Services blue bins in Carmel and surrounding areas end up at the company’s recycling facility south of I-465 and west of Michigan Road in Indianapolis. The facility, which uses optics, magnets and several other technologies to sort recyclable materials, processes up to 25 tons of material an hour. Craig Lutz, Republic Services manager of municipal sales, said contamination levels have grown since the COVID-19 pandemic began, leading to many items intended to be recycled ending up in a landfill. To prevent contamination, Lutz advises, “When in doubt, throw it out.” (Photos by Ann Marie Shambaugh)

Bundles of plastic recyclables sit outside the Republic Services recycling facility.

Craig Lutz, manager of municipal sales, right, gives a tour of the Republic Services recycling facility.

Bundles of recycled aluminum cans wait for transport inside the facility.

Items left in recycling bins travel up a conveyor belt to begin the sorting process.

A worker removes a bicycle that was placed in a recycle bin. Bicycles are not recyclable.

Workers remove items that are not recyclable from the conveyor belt.

A worker removes non-recyclable items from a conveyor belt for recycled plastic.

Workers sort plastic jugs as a machine pours metal cans into a bin.

Recyclable aluminum cans are crushed and baled.

What can be recycled?

  • Paper and cardboard (flattening is recommended)
  • Metal cans
  • Plastic bottles and jugs (empty, clean and dry)

Never place in Republic recycling bins:

  • Plastic bags and wrappers
  • Styrofoam
  • Food waste
  • Batteries and electronics
  • Yard waste
  • Diapers
  • Soiled or wet paper products
  • Clothing and shoes
  • Tools
  • Toys
  • Construction waste
  • Medical waste

Other tips

  • Don’t bag recycling (everything in a bag will end up in a landfill)
  • Connected or mixed materials, such as a paper envelope with plastic bubble wrap, cannot be recycled
  • Keep plastic lids on containers or throw them away
  • Never allow more than one teaspoon of liquid to remain in a recyclable

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