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“Project Picnic”: A Cardboard Recycling Facility Proposed for Bloomington’s West Side

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The site of the now-demolished ABB manufacturing plant on Bloomington’s west side, is being considered as a location for a cardboard recycling plant.

Bloomington Economic Development Corporation President Lynn Coyne told the Monroe County Redevelopment Commission on
August 30th an anonymous corporation approached the Indiana Economic Development Commission with the idea.

Coyne says the plant would recycle used cardboard into material that can be used for containers. However, the cardboard recycling facility could generate between 800 thousand to over a million gallons of what is termed “high strength waste” per day.

Bloomington Utilities Director Vic Kelson explained this high strength waste — or high B-O-D waste — will have to be pre-treated before it can enter the city’s sewer system.

Kelson says the city’s Dillman Road wastewater plant has the hydraulic capacity to handle the proposed facility’s wastewater flow, but does not have the biological treatment capacity needed.

Building an industrial waste pre-treatment plant could cost the county between 14 and 18 million dollars, according to preliminary cost estimates provided by consultants Black and Veitch. County Attorney Jeff Cockerill says even the lowest cost projection may be beyond the county’s bonding capability.

Cockerill and Commission members say having an industrial waste pre-treatment facility on Bloomington’s west side could bring in other industries that produce high strength waste. Kelson gave as an example breweries, distilleries, dairies and some bio-medical facilities.

Because steam is involved in the recycling process, a steam generating plant would have to be built on the property. The facility could also influence the county’s plans to extend Profile and Gate Parkways, and could put an extra 150 trucks on area roads. The Economic Development Commission President Lynn Coyne says he’s consulting with Public Works Director Lisa Ridge on the issue.

The proposed recycling facility is being dubbed “Project Picnic,” to protect the investing company’s identity and plans from its competitors. Coyne says the facility will bring one hundred new jobs with an average wage of 29 to 30 dollars per hour.

Referring to the county’s master plan for the area, commission member Richard Martin indicated he found the 100 new jobs to be on the low side.

County Attorney Jeff Cockerill emphasized the Commission’s August 30th discussion was, QUOTE, “very preliminary,” and he is still researching the proposed project. Monroe County is one of three sites being considered for the cardboard recycling center. Cockerill says the company is expected to make its site selection this fall.

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