News Flash

SWACO News

Posted on: March 27, 2018

Poll Shows Positive Views on Recycling in Central Ohio

A public opinion poll conducted by the Solid Waste Authority of Central Ohio (SWACO) and EMC Research determined that the majority of Franklin County residents recycle because it’s the right thing to do and is good for the environment. The survey also revealed that limitations on what is accepted for recycling and access to recycling containers presented barriers to recycling activities for some residents.

SWACO is using the detailed and statistically valid data to inform decisions about waste diversion program offerings in 2018 and beyond including use in the development of a Public Policy Agency and programmatic strategic plan.

SWACO hired EMC Research to conduct a random telephone interview of 600 Franklin County households in November 2017. The survey sample was representative of Franklin County’s population in terms of age, gender, education, income, race and ethnicity, and geography. Most residents surveyed (73%) lived in single-family house and most (81%) had access to recycling at their home.  

Key findings of the poll included: 

  • Nearly three quarters of the residents surveyed are recycling regularly, but access is a problem for residents in multi-family housing and limitations on what’s accepted for recycling in the curbside program were cited as barriers to additional recycling.
  • Residents generally have a favorable view towards recycling, with 93-percent saying it is a source of community pride.
  • Residents believe in recycling’s beneficial environmental impacts as well as broad economic impacts, with 94-percent saying local governments should lead the way toward recycling and waste reduction.
  • About half report confusion about what can be recycled.

Even with limitations on what is accepted in the curbside recycling program by the Material Recovery Facility, Franklin County still boasts a diversion rate of 46.5% which is higher than the national average (32%). Like communities across the nation, SWACO is interested in creating innovative solutions to increase waste diversion and reduce waste stream contamination. To that end, SWACO intends to use the data from the survey to create additional waste diversion education and programs to overcome recycling barriers and to help avid and hopeful recyclers increase their efforts and knowledge. SWACO has established a community-wide goal of reaching 50% diversion by the end of 2020 and 75% diversion by 2032.  

Using the findings to advance SWACO’s goals

To assist with accomplishing the shorter-term goal of reaching 50% diversion and overcoming reported barriers regarding confusion, in 2018, SWACO is launching a countywide awareness and marketing recycling educational initiative titled Recycle Right, Make a Difference. The program will help to address questions about why certain materials – such as #5 plastics – aren’t currently accepted and will focus on how recycling right leads to greater environmental, social and economic benefits for the entire community.

While 96% of single-family households in Franklin County have access to a curbside program, recycling opportunities for multi-family properties are limited to securing a private contract or utilizing one of SWACO’s more than 50 drop-off recycling locations across the County. SWACO will implement programs to address commercial recycling, including multi-family housing units in 2019 as outlined in the strategic plan adopted by the SWACO Board of Trustees.

Finally, in 2018, SWACO will create an action plan to address food waste reduction and diversion and will adopt a Public Policy Agenda which will guide the organizations local and statewide advocacy efforts.

The polling results and infographic can be downloaded here.

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