SWACO Releases 2021 Community Impact Report

The Solid Waste Authority (SWACO), Grove City, Ohio, released its annual Community Impact Report providing information on local landfill disposal trends and updates on collaborations with schools, organizations nonprofits, local governments and other organizations to improve recycling and increase food waste. diversion possibilities.

According to the report, there was a 51% waste diversion rate, which SWACO says is one of the highest rates in the Midwest.

“While we still have some way to go to reach our goal of diverting 75% of all waste streams from landfill by 2032, the numbers reported show that we are continuing to make progress,” says Joe Lombardi, Executive Director of SWAC. “Our region’s progress is a direct result of the tireless efforts of many public and private partners working together to create a safer, healthier and greener community.

Residential Food Waste Diversion and Recycling Programs Yield Great Results

The Central Ohio Food Waste Initiative, a collaborative group focused on food waste prevention and led by SWACO, created the Save More Than Food (SMTF) Campaign in 2020 to help halve Central Ohio’s food waste by 2030. As part of this program, SWACO received a $60,000 federal grant from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency to study food waste behaviors and the positive benefits that food waste campaigns can have. public education like SMTF.

Last year, grant funding supported partnerships between SWACO, Upper Arlington, Ohio and The Ohio State University to study the behaviors of hundreds of households before and after receiving reduction, prevention and composting materials. food waste. Not only did Upper Arlington residents capture and divert 138,000 pounds of food waste from the landfill. The study also documented:

SWACO has also partnered with 10 local communities to expand the food waste collection program and today 29% of Franklin County residents report composting food or yard waste at home, curbside or through a collection program.

In addition to food waste diversion efforts, SWACO says it has continued to help improve the infrastructure for curbside recycling programs in municipalities across the county. For example, in 2021, SWACO worked with Whitehall, Ohio, to transition homeowners to a volume-based waste collection and recycling program that incentivized households to lower their waste bills by recycling more. The results are impressive:

  • 95% participation in the selective collection program compared to 26% in 2020;

  • 85% increase in the amount of recycled materials; and

  • 21% reduction in waste.

In Gahanna, Ohio, SWACO has partnered with the city to implement Feet on the Street, a national program of The Recycling Partnership that uses a team of community observers to visit each resident’s recycling cart to provide personalized feedback on how to improve recycling. As a result, the city saw a 45% reduction in the number of misplaced items in Gahanna’s curbside program.

In 2021, SWACO expanded its depot recycling program, adding new depot locations in Whitehall, Winchester, Ohio and Columbus, Ohio. The program collected one million pounds of recyclables each month. SWACO has also piloted new recycling options in multi-family housing complexes intended to provide greater access to recycling for families living in apartments and condos.

New resources encourage businesses to recycle

In 2021, SWACO says it has hired dedicated staff to help businesses in central Ohio, one of the largest generators of landfill materials, improve and expand their recycling programs. This included piloting a new incentive program that helped kick-start recycling at two local businesses:

  • The King Arts Complex used SWACO’s business toolkit to audit its waste stream to better understand the type of waste generated. Then, with support from SWACO, we purchased recycling containers and put up educational signs detailing what the program accepts. As a result, they now recycle two cubic meters of material every week.

  • Zipline Logistics has worked with SWACO to transition from plastic and other non-recyclable breakroom items to reusable glassware and cups. SWACO and Zipline are also working to set up a recycling program to recover plastic bottles and metal cans. In the first month of the pilot, Zipline collected one cubic yard of material, diverting the equivalent of 200 gallons of milk from the landfill.

Grant programs and dedicated resources help partners achieve their sustainability goals

SWACO says it continues to offer a variety of grants to help area schools, universities, local governments and nonprofits achieve their sustainability goals. Last year, SWACO awarded more than $264,000 in grants to help partners meet their waste diversion goals. One of the grant programs has supported more than a dozen partners and helped divert more than 440,000 pounds of recyclables and compost from landfill.

SWACO also offers several other programs for local organizations, such as schools, to achieve their sustainability goals. In 2021, SWACO partnered with five local schools to provide technical advice on setting up new recycling programs or improving existing ones. SWACO provided participating schools with new recycling containers and appropriate recycling signage to ensure program success and engage students in recycling activities as part of the school’s green team.

Safe and Responsible Waste Disposal

In 2021, SWACO says it handled 49,000 tonnes more waste than the previous year despite labor shortages facing industries across the board. SWACO also generated nearly $8.5 million in revenue from the sale of renewable landfill gas, helping to reduce emissions and heat 13,000 area homes.

Next year, SWACO will be joined by BQ Energy, AEP and Columbus to inaugurate the Columbus Solar Park, a 50 megawatt solar array that will generate enough renewable energy to power more than 5,000 homes when it opens in late 2023.

View the full Community Impact Report here.

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