The Indiana Recycling Coalition is concerned about IDEM's decision to suspend environmental grants to Indiana communities and businesse. During these tough economic times, more than ever, we need to encourage "green jobs" in areas such as recycling, pollution prevention, energy technology development and green manufacturing, to name a few.

In Indiana, we have a first-rate example of our state government encouraging growth in the green economy. Almost two decades ago, the Indiana legislature created several grant and loan programs that have resulted in significant investments in our green economy, including investments in green manufacturing, expanded municipal recycling programs and increased household hazardous waste programs.

Remarkably, none of these programs relies on a cent of property, sales or income tax. Landfill fees pay for these programs whose purpose is solely to improve Indiana's environment.

"Per ton of materials, every one landfill or incinerator job equals 10 jobs for sorting and processing recyclables. Those recyclables are then used to manufacture new products."

On Dec. 30, IDEM announced that because of budget shortfalls, these funds would be suspended. The coalition urges IDEM to reconsider this decision. Precisely because our economy is struggling, these funds are all the more valuable to Indiana - to continue the growth of our green economy and the jobs that will result from that growth.

Per ton of materials, every one landfill or incinerator job equals 10 jobs for sorting and processing recyclables. Those recyclables are then used to manufacture new products.

Our economy is strengthened when we sort and process recycled resources in Indiana, and our economy grows even more so when those materials are used for manufacturing in Indiana.

Ironically, according to IDEM, one of the programs suspended, the Recycling Market Development Program, financed 23 projects last year, totaling $1.3 million in loans and grants awarded to companies whose investments brought $54 million to the state. By highlighting this return on investment, IDEM correctly stressed the importance of these programs to our economy as well as our environment.

Recycling is a multibillion-dollar a year industry in the U.S. Recycling is also one of the easiest ways for Hoosiers to reduce their carbon footprint, to save natural resources and to make Indiana a greener state.

Let's not backslide on our ability to grow this green industry that is providing jobs and environmental benefits to our state.

Carey Hamilton is executive director of the Indiana Recycling Coalition. She can be reached at careyhamilton@yahoo.com.