Franklin County residents value their ability to recycle.

A 2017 survey found that 93% of residents view recycling as a point of pride in their community.

For residents who live in houses, it’s relatively easy to recycle. All they have to do is toss recyclables into a cart provided by their community or service provider and take it to the curb on recycling day.

But for some businesses or some who live in apartments and condominiums, on-site recycling programs might not be available.

That’s where SWACO’s drop-off recycling program comes in.

SWACO has more than 150 recycling containers available at more than 70 sites across Franklin County.

The containers accept the same materials that are permitted in the curbside program – paper, cardboard, cartons, metal cans, glass bottles and jars and plastic bottles and jugs that have a neck narrower than the base.

For the most part, the same rules apply for both the curbside and drop-off programs.

Large cardboard boxes, for example, should be emptied of packing materials and flattened before being placed into the container.

In addition, recyclables never should be placed into containers in plastic bags. As mentioned in previous columns, plastic bags are a stretchy film plastic and get tangled in the sorting equipment.

We greatly appreciate the many dedicated recyclers who correctly use these drop-off sites. In 2017, more than 7,000 tons of material were diverted from the county landfill through these sites.

Sometimes, however, the containers are misused.

People leave all types of items that are not accepted for recycling, such as furniture, mattresses, garbage, toys and construction materials.

Leaving these materials at SWACO drop-off locations causes delays and additional expenses to service the containers, is unsightly and problematic for the property owners and is a crime that can be prosecuted under Ohio law. If you see illegal dumping or misuse of the containers, report it by calling 614-974-5322 or at itsacrime.org.

Dozens of charitable organizations in our community are happy to accept used furniture and other usable household items, such as towels, books and dishes.

SWACO can help you find donation sites. Go to recycleright.org and look for the “Recycle and Reuse Search Tool.”

When used correctly, the drop-off program is a great solution for those who don’t have access to recycling and for homeowners who have curbside recycling but need additional capacity.

And the more people participate, the faster we’ll be able to reach our waste-diversion goals.

Franklin County has a recycling rate of about 50%. This rate, which is among the highest in the Midwest, means we’re recycling about half of the waste we create.

Everyone should be proud of this accomplishment, but we know that more can be done because 76% of the material in the landfill could have been recycled or composted; therefore, SWACO has set a goal to help Franklin County reach a recycling rate of 75% by 2032.

I believe that making recycling easy and accessible – either at homes or at drop-off sites – will help us achieve that goal.

Go to swaco.org to find nearby drop-off recycling containers, and go to recycleright.org for information about the correct way to recycle. If you are with a local business interested in having a drop-off site, contact dropoff@swaco.org.

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.