Reducing Our Emissions

A changing climate

In the atmosphere, carbon dioxide (CO2), methane (CH4), nitrous oxide (N2O), and certain fluorinated gases, collectively referred to as “carbon emissions,” absorb infrared radiation, thereby trapping and holding heat. As the concentration of these gases increases, an increase in the global average temperature occurs. 

Reports by the United Nation’s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), a scientific body of the United Nations assessing the current climate data, show the global average temperature is currently projected to increase as much as 4.8°C (8.64°F), above pre-industrial levels, by the end of the century and could result in increasingly significant impacts on climate change.

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Impacts of global warming

The effects of climate change have the ability to alter the global climate, causing various cascading impacts including greater frequency and intensity of severe weather events and extreme temperatures; melting glaciers and arctic sea ice; a rise in sea levels; ocean acidification; changing precipitation patterns resulting in increased flooding or droughts; and related humanitarian crises. Human activities significantly contribute to the increase of carbon emissions through combustion of fossil fuels like coal, oil and natural gas; industrial processes; biomass burning and decomposition; and changes in land use. 

What actions are World Leaders taking?

In acknowledgement that urgent action must be taken, the international environmental treaty known as the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change adopted the Paris Agreement in 2015. As part of the Agreement, 195 governmental parties committed to pursuing efforts to limit the global average temperature increase to 1.5°C (2.7°F) and hold the average temperature increase to below 2°C (3.6°F).

Countries, states, local governments and companies are setting significant long-term emission reduction targets in support of this effort. Across the United States, over 400 city mayors, including those of Columbus, Cincinnati and Cleveland, have committed to adopt and uphold the Paris Agreement goals. Additionally, cities such as Indianapolis, New York and Seattle are committing to carbon neutrality by 2050.

Currently, there are no commitment requirements by state or federal regulation in the United States.

What is SWACO doing to reduce its carbon emissions?

Our Commitment

In recognition that climate plays an important role in the quality of life, economic well-being and long-term sustainability of the Central Ohio Region, SWACO is committed to lessening the impact of SWACO’s contribution to climate change and has set a goal to reduce emissions by 64% by the year 2032.  

Our Actions

To that end, SWACO has set a long-term strategic goal to reduce the organization’s carbon footprint for assets managed by SWACO. 

To achieve this goal, SWACO has: 

  • Developed a Carbon Emissions Management Plan that identifies measures for reducing the carbon footprint of SWACO facilities through an informed decision-making process. Read the plan.
  • Reduced Vehicle & Equipment Fuel by beginning to transition to a Green Fleet comprised of Compressed Natural Gas Trucks and electric vehicles.
  • Reduced Building Electricity & Fuel by implementing conservation measures to reduce total energy use. SWACO relies on renewable energy for all electrical needs. 
  • Reduced Waste Material by increasing the use of reuse, recycling and composting activities at facilities and supporting circular economy practices including purchasing recycled-content materials and supplies.
  • Reduced Landfill Gas Emissions through a public-private partnership to capture and reuse methane gas generated at the Franklin County Sanitary Landfill.

Partnerships to Reduce Carbon Emissions

SWACO is the only Solid Waste Authority in the state of Ohio to own and operate a public landfill. The Franklin County Sanitary Landfill serves all of Franklin County. Reducing gas emissions at the landfill requires action by every person and business in the Solid Waste District.

Landfill Gas-to-Energy

SWACO employs innovative best practices at the landfill to capture and reuse the methane produced by decomposing waste. SWACO in partnership with Aria Energy captures landfill gas at the current Franklin County Sanitary Landfill site, cleans it and turns it in a renewable resource that heats more than 13,000 central Ohio homes every year.

Solar

In 2020, SWACO announced a new partnership with BQ Energy to install a 50- megawatt solar array at the closed landfill site between Jackson Pike and I-71. The solar array will be one of the largest on a closed landfill site in the nation and when operational, will produce enough electricity to power 5,000 homes a year. 

Grants for Schools, Universities, Local Governments, Non-Profits and Events

Meeting these goals will require action from the community to reduce their reliance on the landfill. Each year, SWACO invests hundreds of thousands of dollars into area schools and universities, non-profits, events, community programs and services for residents to reduction waste and increase reuse, recycling and composting activities in the District.

 Recycling & Food Waste Diversion

SWACO will also continue to offer programs and services directly to businesses and residents in order to divert organic material and other waste from the landfill through programs like Save More Than Food and Recycle Right, Make a Difference.

Annual Progress Reports

Download the Carbon Emissions Management Plan
Download the 2020 Plan Update (Annual Report)

What can I do to reduce my carbon emissions?

The US Environmental Protection Agency suggests that everyone can play a part in reducing greenhouse gas emissions. Learning about the issues is the first step in protecting our planet for future generations.