Food Waste

In Franklin County, over a million pounds of food waste enters the landfill every single day from residential and commercial sources. Waste reduction efforts in combination with composting and recycling can help reduce the amount of materials sent to the landfill.

New initiative developed to solve central Ohio's food waste challenges

The Central Ohio Food Waste Initiative, a collective impact approach to solving local food waste challenges, will bring together business leaders and key stakeholders, building collaboration towards developing an action plan to reduce and divert food waste created in central Ohio.

In partnership with Resource Recycling Systems and Biehl Consultancy, SWACO launched the initiative with a kick-off meeting on Sept. 20. The initiative will include participation from over 40 central Ohio-based organizations representing all facets of the food chain, including farmers, food producers, retailers, consumers, nonprofits, government agencies and private sector companies.

The group will take a holistic approach to the issue by focusing on preventing food waste, recovering edible food waste for redistribution and recycling food waste through agriculture uses such as composting. SWACO expects to introduce an action plan by the end of the first quarter in 2019. The action plan will act as a road map for implementing food waste solutions throughout the region.

Stay informed.

Watch our recent discussion at the Columbus Metropolitan Club and visit our website dedicated to the Initiative and food waste education.

How should I reduce food waste?

Every day provides a new opportunity to reduce food waste: 

  • Shop Smart: Plan meals. Make a grocery list based on what you have, and purchase produce that doesn’t look perfect. Click here for an easy meal planning tool.
  • FIFO: First in, First Out. Place older products at the front of your pantry and fridge and put new products in the back. Don’t let food get ‘lost’ in your fridge. Check out this resource for tips on how to eat what you buy! 
  • The Science of Storage: Learn how to properly store produce for longer life.
  • Host Your Own Cooking Show! Challenge yourself to cook a delicious meal combining leftovers and items close to expiration.
  • Fuel your Body with Extra Nutrients: Use the skin of your cucumbers and potatoes to get the most nutrition out of your grocery bill.
  • Audit Yourself: Look in your trash bin when you go to toss and consider how waste could be avoided. For example, if you are consistently landfilling wilted spinach, consider buying less or making pesto!

Cook Zero Waste At Home

Check out our Lunch with Lucy video series for great recipes and ideas for reducing waste while you’re cooking. 

Kitchen hacks for getting the most out of your grocery bill and minimizing waste:

  • Add wilted veggies to crock-pot soup or stew, or a frittata or quiche.
  • Add bruised or over-ripe fruit like bananas, mangoes, or strawberries to a sweet bread or a compote for pancakes.
  • Hard bread can be pan-fried and transformed into croutons for soup or salad.
  • Fry or bake sliced broccoli stalks and pair with a dipping sauce for a crunchy snack.
  • Use beet greens in your soup or casseroles for added nutrition!
  • Use veggie and meat scraps to make homemade stock.
  • To test if ‘expired’ eggs are still good, put them in a bowl of water. If the eggs sink, they’re still good to eat. But if they float, they’re not good to eat.
  • Pickle your fruits and veggies for increased preservation.

Where can I donate edible food?

Donations of food are accepted from grocers, food distributors, farmers, and community members to assist families in Central Ohio. You can help by donating non-perishable foods and fresh produce at your local food bank including the Mid-Ohio Foodbank. In 2015, the Mid-Ohio Foodbank distributed over 26 million pounds of fresh fruits and vegetables to families in need.

If you’re a restaurant, grocer, or another food provider, also explore donating surplus food to Food Rescue or another non-profit.

Donations in good faith are protected from liability under the Federal Good Samaritan Food Donation Act.

How do I compost at home?

Compost food scraps, yard trimmings, and other organic wastes through a backyard pile, tumbler, or worm composting system. Adding compost to your soil increases water retention, decreases erosion, and keeps organic materials out of landfills. To learn more, watch SWACO's recorded webinar on how you can start composting at home here.

If you take an online quiz or register for a local workshop the City of Columbus and Franklin Soil and Water Conservation District offer a rebate program on rain barrels, compost bins, and native plants or trees as part of their Community Backyards Conservation Program. City of Columbus residents, as well as residents in partnering communities, may be eligible for 1 rebate per address per year in the amount of $50. Eligibility is based on your primary tax district and you must participate in an online quiz or register for a local workshop. Click here.  

Drop-off Programs

Many Central Ohio communities have been awarded funding through SWACO’s Community Waste Reduction Grant program to assist with the implementation of residential food waste drop-off programs. Below is a list of community recipients that collect food waste from residents for composting:

City of Dublin

City of Grandview Heights 

City of Grove City

City of Hilliard

City of Upper Arlington

City of Westerville

City of Worthington

If you are a resident of the city of Bexley, learn more about the curbside, residential collection, and composting service offered by visiting the City of Bexley webpage.

If your city is not listed, we recommend that you check with your local municipality to determine if a food waste drop-off program is available in your area.

I know how to reduce, reuse and compost my food waste but how do I tackle composting all of my yard waste? 

Find easy solutions here for composting yard waste.

What are SWACO and other community leaders doing to address food waste and create a stronger, more sustainable local food system? 

In addition to our work on the Central Ohio Food Waste Initiative, we're proud to support the efforts of our partners in the city of Columbus and Franklin County regarding the Local Food Action Plan (LFAP) created in 2014 by Columbus City Councilmember Priscilla Tyson and Franklin County Commissioner John O'Grady. 

Learn more about the work the LFAP is currently undertaking. 

Read the 2018 Local Food Action Plan Annual Report

2018 LFPA Annual Report