Court of appeals sides with plaintiffs over Indiana recycling facility contract

Court of appeals sides with plaintiffs over Indiana recycling facility contract

Judge rules contract with Indianapolis and Covanta failed to comply with waste disposal statute.

February 25, 2016

The Court of Appeals of Indiana has made a decision Feb. 24, 2016, in the appeals case filed by Graphic Packaging International, Rock-Tenn Converting Co. (now WestRock) and resident Cathy Weinmann versus the city of Indianapolis and city of Indianapolis Public Works.

In a 19-page decision, the court ruled that the city of Indianapolis violated competitive bidding laws when the it awarded a long-term recycling contract to Covanta in 2014.

The decision reversed a lower court ruling and ordered the Marion Superior Court to void the deal Indianapolis made with Morristown, New Jersey-based Covanta to build a $45 million recycling facility that would process mixed waste next door to its waste-to-energy facility.

“By including provisions related to the design, construction and maintenance of this new facility, the amendment fell under the purview of section 4 of the Waste Disposal Statute, which requires among other things, public bidding and public participation in the process. That did not occur. Therefore the contract is void for failing to comply with the statute,” the decision reads.

Just two weeks earlier, on Feb. 10, Indianapolis Mayor Joe Hogsett announced the city of Indianapolis and Covanta Indianapolis Inc. had reached an agreement to temporarily suspend a proposed “advanced recycling center” (ARC). The facility was to be located on Morristown, New Jersey-based Covanta’s Indianapolis campus.

“Leadership begins with listening, and I believe Indianapolis deserves a true community conversation before we move forward with any waste and recycling plan,” Hogsett said when the agreement with Covanta was announced. “I appreciate Covanta’s willingness to agree to this effort as we work toward a long-term solution that best serves our neighborhoods and our environment.”

The new facility would have increased the amount of material recycled in Indianapolis by up to 500 percent at no cost to the city or its residents, according to earlier statements from Covanta.