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  • Lars Lawson

Howard Vogel: IRC Recycling Rock Star

Updated: Sep 15, 2021

Celebrate the awesomeness of Howard Vogel by making a donation to the IRC in his honor. Your tax-deductible contribution will help the IRC reach its 30th Anniversary fundraising campaign goal and helps fund our education and advocacy projects – and more

Since 1976, recycling has been a crucial part of Howard Vogel’s life. Prior to getting involved in recycling, Vogel referred to all of his packaging and paper products as waste. But when he dove into the industry, he saw the potential rebirth for those pieces of “waste.”

Vogel was one of the founding members of the Indiana Recycling Coalition. During the first half of its existence, the IRC was a grass-roots organization and was completely led by a group of passionate volunteers. Vogel served as vice president for one term and part of a committee that supervised the compilation of extensive recycling materials. Thanks to his direction and contribution, the IRC owes him its first recycling manual, which served as the first introduction to recycling for many people.  

Most of Vogel’s career was spent on what he calls, “selling people on recycling.” He showed Hoosiers that their trash wasn’t just waste – it can have a much longer life cycle and be transformed into useful goods. He served as “part business owner and part PR guy,” as he puts it. His company, River City Recycling, Inc., presented to school groups, business owners, industries, and large stores. 

Vogel’s relationship with these entities helped them accomplish goals from setting up recycling programs to diverting their cardboard waste. Vogel convinced organizations that instead of paying a dump fee, they should pay for recycling pick-up. 

Indiana’s recycling industry owes several firsts to Vogel. For West Lafayette particularly, many thanks are due for Vogel being the “guy who got the recycling bug started.” With his help, West Lafayette implemented their first curbside recycling program, which hasn’t slowed since. 

Following this work, in 1990 he accepted a position as the Recycling Manager for the energy division at the Indiana Department of Commerce. In this position he honed his public relations skills. He not only continued his presentations, but he also made media appearances to promote recycling to Hoosiers. He also gave citizens the tools they needed to get involved by compiling a directory of recycling facilities across the state. He remained in the recycling industry until his retirement in 2013.

Vogel’s work has helped people become more aware of the impact of their choices. He believes that each person has an individual responsibility to be a conscious consumer and think about the end-life of items purchased. He highlights the importance of buying in bulk and bringing one’s own packaging to reduce waste.  He has educated and inspired countless efforts and hopes to continue to remind people that it is all a question of educating people to be aware of how our choices impact our world.

Written by Lucy Mellen


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