From Waste to Resources: SWACO pledges to reduce carbon footprint by 64% by 2032

Ty Marsh
Guest Columnist

Global warming is affecting our climate, causing increased temperatures, rising sea levels and extreme weather events.

In turn, these climate-related changes are harming our environment, quality of life and economy. That’s why it’s crucial that we work together to slow and ultimately stop global warming.  

Ty Marsh

How much do your daily activities contribute to global warming? Have you thought about what you can you do to reduce the amount of heat-trapping greenhouse gases created through your daily activities, otherwise known as your carbon footprint? 

These are questions we have been asking ourselves at SWACO. Now we have some answers.  

We recently released our Carbon Emissions Management Plan, which outlines a comprehensive strategy to reduce our carbon emissions 64% by 2032. Specifically, we want to: 

Reduce landfill gas emissions. Not surprisingly, the Franklin County Sanitary Landfill is SWACO’s most significant source of carbon emissions. As organic materials like food scraps decompose, methane, a greenhouse gas, is created. But we don’t let all those emissions escape into the air. Instead we capture most of the gases created using an elaborate system of underground pipes and extraction wells and sell it to Aria Energy. In turn, Aria converts the methane into clean-burning natural gas and pumps it into the pipeline, turning a waste product into a source of renewable energy for residential and commercial use. We were one of the first landfills in the country to adopt this practice. We’re also going to develop additional programs like the community composting and the Save More Than Food campaigns already in place that will help central Ohio residents and businesses reduce their reliance on the landfill and keep more organic waste out of it.    

• Reduce emissions from our fleet of vehicles and equipment. SWACO’s cars, trucks and equipment are the second-largest source of carbon emissions. We will continue to transition our fleet from gas and diesel fuel to alternate fuel sources, primarily compressed natural gas and electricity.  

Reduce energy use at our facilities. SWACO will implement additional conservation measures at our headquarters and other facilities to reduce energy use. We will incorporate renewable-energy sources, including wind, solar and geothermal, into our power supply. 

Reduce the amount of waste we generate. SWACO employees already recycle, compost and reuse materials, but we’ll step up these efforts to minimize the amount of waste we send to the landfill. We’ll also make a more concerted effort to purchase supplies made of recycled content and adopt other practices that support a circular economy. 

But we can’t do it alone.

That’s why each year we invest hundreds of thousands of dollars into our grant programs to fund waste reduction, reuse, recycling and composting programs being implemented by our partners at schools, universities, nonprofits, government organization, local events and other partners.  

More:SWACO planning industrial park for site across from Grove City landfill

More:From Waste to Resources: SWACO program helps businesses reduce food waste

As an organization focused on the environment and sustainability, SWACO needs to walk the talk when it comes to minimizing its role in climate change. I’m proud of the steps we’re taking to reduce our carbon footprint and lessen the impact our facilities and operations have on the environment. In addition to the strategies laid out in this plan, we also are working with a New York company to build a solar farm on the site of the former Franklin County Sanitary Landfill. When the project is up and running, it will increase the amount of renewable energy available locally and serve as a visual reminder that central Ohio is a region committed to sustainability.  

I hope you’ll join SWACO and make a resolution in 2021 to reduce your own carbon footprint. To learn more, visit the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s website. It has a carbon-footprint calculator and a section explaining what you can do about climate change.  

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.