Even though the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency estimates 75 percent of household waste is recyclable, the national average diversion rate is 22 percent.

Based on data collected by Hilliard's contracted waste hauler, Local Waste Services, our city actually comes in slightly below average with a 20 percent diversion rate. Even a modest increase in recycling by residents to bring us up to the national average would prevent 225 tons of Hilliard-generated waste from being sent to the landfill.

Increasing the recycling rate in Hilliard is one of the many reasons the Environmental Sustainability Commission began to explore the possibility of becoming an affiliate of the Keep America Beautiful program.

With more than 620 affiliates nationwide, KAB is the leading national organization that seeks to help create communities that are "clean, green and beautiful." Through educational programs, a network of experts and available grant funding, KAB helps affiliate communities to reduce litter, increase recycling and implement beautification and greening programs.

The ESC recently was awarded $2,700 through the Ohio EPA's litter-prevention grant program to cover the initial membership fee and training costs associated with joining more than 35 other Ohio municipalities in becoming a KAB affiliate.

Later this summer, ESC members and representatives from the Hilliard Recreation and Parks Department will participate in training activities coordinated by our state KAB affiliate, Keep Ohio Beautiful. (Editor's note: Keep America Beautiful and Keep Ohio Beautiful are not associated with Keep Hilliard Beautiful, a political-action committee.)

This training will help us to identify what programs are available and ascertain how we can leverage KAB resources, including potential funding, to create a more beautiful and sustainable community.

ESC members hope that through additional efforts to inform and educate residents, we can) increase the city's diversion rate to meet and exceed the national average.

Implementation of new events and programs, such as our successful 2017 Earth Day celebration, will provide additional opportunities for community partners and volunteers to help clean up and beautify the city's landscape.

KAB has 60 years of experience in developing frameworks to achieve these goals and helping to apply them to the unique needs of communities across the country. The resources made available by the program will allow Hilliard to see what initiatives are working around the country and how they can be implemented here.

Becoming a KAB affiliate is one important step in helping to achieve the goal of Hilliard developing into a model community for our region and beyond when it comes to litter prevention, recycling and environmental sustainability.

Pete Marsh is chairman of the Hilliard Environmental Sustainability Commission.