OPINION

From Waste to Resources: Central Ohio communities prioritizing sustainability

Ty Marsh
Guest Columnist
Ty Marsh

To celebrate Earth Month this April, SWACO is highlighting the efforts of several central Ohio communities to prioritize sustainability and their work towards a countywide goal to divert 75 percent of the area’s waste from the landfill by 2032.

In Franklin County, 40% of waste is generated by residents, yet less than half of recyclable items from these households is captured. Items most commonly discarded include food, cardboard, magazines and newspapers – each of which could be diverted from the landfill.

SWACO

To capture more of these recyclable materials, SWACO is working with communities to improve and expand curbside recycling and drop-off composting programs for residents.

Join me in celebrating the recycling and composting accomplishments of SWACO’s community partners.

More:From Waste to Resources: Discarded food has economic, environmental and social costs

Canal Winchester has utilized information from SWACO’s consortium program to provide residents with curbside recycling services for the first time. In turn, every central Ohio city now offers residents a convenient opportunity to recycle via curbside pickup.

At the end of last year, Whitehall transitioned to a volume-based trash-collection program that provides a citywide incentive for residents to reduce their trash bill by recycling more. Prior to the new system, only 26% of homes set out recycling for weekly pickup. Now roughly 60% of area homes recycle each week. 

In Pleasant Township, 2,000 households transitioned from 16-gallon recycling bins to larger, more convenient 64-gallon carts. Since this change, the number of homes putting out recycling each week has soared to 70%, a 30% increase over previous rates.

In addition to these infrastructure improvements, several communities joined the Recycle Right, Make a Difference recycling-education program. SWACO worked with the above communities and the cities of Dublin and New Albany and Plain and Washington townships to distribute recycling-education resources to 30,000 households. This effort has helped residents become better, more confident recyclers.

SWACO also has awarded several grants to support the diversion of food waste through community drop-off locations in Dublin, Hilliard, Upper Arlington and Westerville. These cities now have diverted more 256,000 pounds of food waste.

In addition, Bexley and Worthington offer residents a curbside food-waste pickup program, and Grove City and Grandview Heights are set to launch composting programs soon with support from SWACO.

We also want to make sure these investments of time, money and energy yield results for our region. We’re pleased to be working with Upper Arlington to measure the effectiveness of our food-waste diversion programs and to be measuring curbside recycling behaviors in Gahanna. Together the learnings from these studies will inform diversion activities occurring in communities for years to come.

Congratulations, central Ohio, and keep up the great work. It’s only by working together that we will make a difference and reach our sustainability goals.

Go to recycleright.org for information on recycling in Franklin County or to savemorethanfood.org for information on food-waste diversion programs.

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