The Solid Waste Authority of Central Ohio has partnered with a Florida-based company on the construction of a comprehensive recycling facility and green industrial park in southwest Franklin County.
Team Gemini of Orlando has agreed to lease 22 acres of SWACO land next to the Franklin County Sanitary Landfill to construct receiving facilities, and 343 acres of SWACO land north of state Route 665, which will house Gemini's green-energy industrial park.
Gemini will pay the waste authority $1,000 per acre annually once the facilities are built.
SWACO's board of trustees approved the deal Jan. 8.
Gemini will spend $35 million total on both endeavors, which are expected to create 300 permanent jobs.
The first, located in Jackson Township, is an 85,000-square-foot receiving facility to be operated by SWACO, which is also contributing $1 million worth of equipment.
A related component of that conjoined venture is a 100,000-square-foot material recovering facility, owned and operated by Gemini.
The move is expected to generate 1,000 tons of recyclables per day, representing a 25-percent increase in the county.
Whatever waste remains, such as food waste, will converted into clean energy.
The deal will not affect residential curbside recycling in Franklin County. About 60 percent of landfill waste comes from businesses.
Under terms of the contract, SWACO can increase the amount of waste Gemini receives, leaving the potential for larger-scale recycling, said Ronald Mills, executive director of the waste authority.
"This contract provides SWACO a lot of flexibility," Mills said.
"We hope, over time, to increase the amounts recycled. It is my dream that one day we will be able to move away from landfilling," he said, "but we need to walk first before we run."
Meanwhile, the industrial park, located in Grove City, is expected to include greenhouses, a fish farm, an anaerobic digester and other production and industrial facilities.
Under the design concept, waste from one center will help fuel another.
Doug Haughn, co-founder of Team Gemini, said the company also will be adding 12 megawatts of solar panels to the facility.
"So if we add all of our power-generating capacity together, we estimate it will be more than 122 gigawatt hours per year," enough to power 30,000 homes per year, practically the size of Grove City, Haughn said.
It's also a homecoming of sorts for Haughn, who grew up in Grove City and had been living in Florida for 27 years.
"There's a lot of family pride in this project because I've returned to the old homestead to do something very modern and green," he said.