Photography by Krystal Dailey

Boone County Solid Waste Management District

Jennifer Lawrence, executive director of the Boone County Solid Waste Management District for the last 13 years, says the program has helped a lot of people.

“In 1991 Indiana mandated the creation of local solid waste management districts to help preserve landfill space within the state of Indiana,” Lawrence says. “At the time Indiana was receiving a good amount of waste from outside of our state. Very little, if any, recycling was happening within communities, and it was estimated that our local landfills only had seven years of capacity remaining. Since that time, it has a been a slow and steady process of implementing education and collection programs with public private partnerships all throughout the state. Now, with efforts to reduce our waste, reuse as much as possible and recycle most of what is left, Indiana has over 50 years of landfill capacity. Improved engineering in our local landfills has helped this effort as well.”

Lawrence adds that while the Midwest has not been the U.S. leader on green initiatives in comparison to the east and west coasts, the ideals of green and sustainable living have increased in importance.

“The knowledge of preserving our natural resources, the economic impacts of the circular economy, and the pride that is built in making a better community, are essential to building the kind of society we want to live in and pass on to the next generation,” Lawrence says.

Lawrence says she has a great staff at the Boone County Solid Waste Management District.

“Darla Bevard has been with the district for 26 years and currently has the title of assistant director,” Lawrence says. “Just this year we added a part-time education and outreach coordinator, and her name is Amelia Braga. Also, for this year we have a Lebanon High School intern named Reid Nelson.”

Lawrence says Boone County residents can have items hauled away. “Whether it is a resident moving into Boone County, a spring home clean-out or someone looking for new service, the Boone County Solid Waste Management District acts as a resource for our residents,” she says. “Education on recycling and proper disposal programs are listed on our website. On behalf of the Boone County commissioners, the Boone County Solid Waste Management District registers solid waste haulers that service Boone County. We publish a list on our website with contact information that enables a resident to easily see the services offered from the local private industry. This is an excellent example of a public-private partnership working together to better our communities.”

Lawrence says recycling efforts continue to grow throughout the communities of Boone County.

“We educate that the recycling that yields the best results is curbside,” she says. “Residents tend to follow the rules better. We will be the first to agree that there are many recycling rules. Both Zionsville and Lebanon offer curbside recycling through their municipal contracts. A handful of homeowners associations have contracts that include curbside, and then some areas outside of the ones mentioned have curbside recycling availability.”

The next best option is recycling drop spots, according to Lawrence.

“The City of Lebanon has bins at their Department of Public Works,” she says. “The Boone County Solid Waste Management District host bins in Thorntown and Advance – again, another example of the district stepping in to provide a service where it is not otherwise offered. In 2023 we collected over 147 tons of commingled recyclables within Thorntown and Advance. With recycling, it is always imperative to understand what your service accepts and to keep the materials clean, dry and loose.”

Lawrence says composting is growing, especially in the areas of Zionsville and Whitestown.

“We partner with Earth Mama Compost, a private company that offers curbside composting,” she says. “If you don’t know about their services, it is a great education to investigate. With our new education and outreach coordinator, we plan to amp up our education for composting. We have already added a page on our website dedicated to the topic.”

Lawrence says community outreach has also been important.

“The community grant program was one of the first programs I initiated in 2011,” Lawrence says. “Since that time we have distributed more than $250,000 and helped 53 local organizations. These funds have helped recycling initiatives and expansion, proper disposal programs, and support the circular economy by closing the loop and purchasing goods made from recycled materials. The community grant program is open to nonprofits, schools, libraries, civic organizations and businesses in Boone County. A grant program available to businesses is unique.”

Lawrence says municipalities have been eligible for community grants in the past.

“Overall, the last year we have carved them out to have their own grant program,” she says. “This enables us to be more flexible with timing for the grant funds and work within the constraints of their annual budget. Similar to the community grants, the funds have helped recycling initiatives and expansion, proper disposal programs, and support the circular economy by closing the loop and purchasing goods made from recycled materials. Education and outreach is an ongoing mission with our office. We will strive each day of the week to help our community be better stewards of their community and our resources.”

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