Public Opinion Poll

Diverting waste from the landfill is at the center of SWACO’s public purpose, and we have set an ambitious goal of increasing the percentage of all waste diverted by Franklin County residents and businesses to 75%, an additional 25%, by the end of 2032.

SWACO determined that it was crucial for us to have a fuller understanding of whether and why people participate in recycling, composting and other diversion activities.

Ninety-six percent (96%) of single-family households have access to curbside recycling yet 70% of all the material that comes to the landfill could have been diverted

For those who don’t recycle, it is important for us to know whether the barriers are related to access, awareness or philosophy – and what we can do to remove those barriers.

In 2017, SWACO conducted its first-ever survey of Franklin County residents. A survey update is planned for the fall of 2021.

Download the full Survey

View an Infographic of the Survey Results

Survey Results 

The results of this poll tell a great story about the character and the potential of our community. 

EMC Research conducted 600 interviews with adult Franklin County residents to ask about their attitudes and habits when it comes to recycling and waste diversion such as reuse and composting.

Our community is one that cares deeply about the environment, believes recycling is the right thing to do, and sees the value in recycling.

According to our survey, most residents understand that recycling supports our economy.

  • Eighty-five percent (85%) of respondents said they were convinced by the argument that the $41 million in reusable material thrown in the landfill should be put “to work in the economy instead of wasting them.”

However, economic reasons are not why Central Ohioans recycle. The vast number of recyclers are motivated by the environmental or societal benefits that recycling brings to our community.

Asked why they recycle, a full ninety percent (90%) of respondents cited altruistic motivations.  

  • 44% said it’s good for the environment,
  • 18% said it reduces landfill waste, and;
  • 15% said it’s simply the right thing to do.
  • Another combined thirteen percent (13%) either said they recycle to reuse or conserve resources or out of concern for future generations.

And yet there is plenty of room for us to get better.

  • More than a quarter of respondents said they recycle absolutely everything they can.
  • 40% gave themselves at least a passing grade in recycling.
  • Only 11% said they make no efforts to recycle.

This is the most encouraging news from the survey.

It means that, in addition the twenty-six percent (26%) who are fully committed to recycling, another sixty-three percent (63%) know it’s worth doing. That means it won’t be hard to convince them to do more.

The data will inform SWACO's decision-making about future programs.

SWACO will use this information to create a large-scale educational and awareness program and food waste initiative to divert even more materials from the landfill, as well as programs for schools, commercial and institutional partners.