Legislators and recycling advocates asked the state environmental chief Wednesday why millions of dollars had been shifted out of recycling programs since the recession, saying the initiatives could have created thousands of jobs.
Officials say that $20 million in funds that lawmakers intended to promote recycling had been reverted to the state in recent years, and an $8 million balance was currently going unused.
State environmental Commissioner Tom Easterly said much of the funding for recycling programs was suspended during the 2008 recession, when Indiana, like other states, cut spending to offset lost revenue.
Others say that by not spending more on recycling, the state was squandering the opportunity to attract at least 20,000 jobs that could come not only from recycling services, but also industries that rely on recycled materials.
Those in the recycling field say that of the six million tons of trash Indiana residents throw away each year, 92 percent can be recycled.