Have you ever put wire clothes hangers, used paper plates or a fast-food container in your recycling container?

Do you wonder what happens to the items in your recycling bin once they’re picked up? Have you considered composting your food scraps and yard waste but weren’t sure where to start?

If you answered yes to any of these questions, then keep reading. I want to do a little trash talking with you.

I’m Ty Marsh, executive director at the Solid Waste Authority of Central Ohio, more commonly known as SWACO.

Many people know SWACO as the organization that runs the Franklin County Sanitary Landfill, but we’re so much more than that. In fact, our goal – and the goal of the other 51 solid-waste districts across Ohio – is to help communities decrease their reliance on landfills. At SWACO, much of our work is focused on educating residents, businesses and students about reducing waste and recycling.

And what better way to get our messages out to the people in Franklin County than through our community newspapers?

In partnership with ThisWeek Community News, we’ll publish a monthly column about some aspect of waste reduction and recycling. We’ll tell you all kinds of things, including what you can and cannot recycle, what items are actually made from recycled materials, how the landfill works and how ordinary items like pizza boxes, grocery bags and water bottles impact our environment.

And we’ll answer questions from readers.

Believe it or not, talking trash can be fun, as waste reduction can be an entertaining and enlightening topic. Did you know, for example, that an average of 500 waste-hauling trucks arrive at the landfill each day, unloading about 4,200 tons of waste? That’s an amount equal to about 840 elephants.

Based on some research we’ve done, we know that nearly 70 percent of the material left at the landfill – about 350 truckfulls – could be diverted, or in other words, recycled or composted. Although our community’s rate of recycling is 46.5 percent and exceeds the national average, we’re hoping to achieve a 50 percent diversion rate by 2020. After all, the less we put in the landfill, the longer it will last.

Recycling also conserves natural resources, such as timber, water and minerals; reduces the amount of energy necessary to make goods; cuts climate-changing greenhouse gas emissions; and protects wildlife and ecosystems. Moreover, recycling creates jobs, and lots of them.

SWACO recently commissioned a study to determine the impact of recycling on central Ohio’s economy. The results verified what we already knew: Recycling is an economic driver and a jobs producer.

Central Ohio is home to 372 businesses involved in the recycling industry, including companies that collect and process recyclable materials, use recycled materials to produce new products and reuse materials that would otherwise be discarded. In 2016, these companies employed more than 5,000 workers and produced nearly $1.3 billion in revenue.

I want this column to be helpful, interesting, thought-provoking, eye-opening and, at times, even amusing. I have some topics already lined up, but if you have any questions or ideas you’d like me to address, I invite you to share them with me at questions@swaco.org.

In the meantime, keep your wire hangers, used paper plates and fast-food containers out of recycling. I’ll tell you why in a future column.

Ty Marsh is executive director of SWACO. Questions about its operations can be directed to him at questions@swaco.org. His office provides this column to ThisWeek Community News.