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Looking back at 2018, it’s clear that SWACO and Franklin County had some significant achievements.
First, the Ohio Environmental Protection Agency granted us a “Permit to Install,” which will help to ensure that Franklin County residents and businesses have access to landfill space for another 30 years. As our population continues to grow, planning for the safe disposal of waste continues to be a top priority for SWACO. In fact, we built and opened a new cell in the landfill which began accepting waste this past December.
Second, SWACO helped Franklin County reach its highest-ever recycling rate. Now at 49 percent, the recycling rate means we’re diverting from the landfill nearly half of all the waste we create each day. That’s fantastic news, as it’s one of the highest rates in the Midwest. But there’s plenty of room for improvement since nearly 70 percent of the waste that comes to the landfill has the potential to be recycled.
SWACO launched a couple of initiatives in 2018 to help increase waste diversion through recycling and other means. We rolled out our Recycle Right, Make a Difference campaign with paid media, a new microsite, and household mailers. We also kicked off the Central Ohio Food Waste Initiative, convening dozens of organizations from central Ohio to address the issue. The group contributed to the creation of a Food Waste Action Plan, which is scheduled to be released by the end of the first quarter.
Third, we released our 2018 Economic Impact Study, which showed how recycling not only helps extend the life of the landfill, but also promotes economic growth and positions central Ohio as an ideal location for companies that care about a community’s sustainability. Moreover, the report affirms that recycling and re-use creates jobs. More than 370 businesses in central Ohio rely on the recycling and re-use industry. These companies generate $1.5 billion in revenue and support more than 5,000 jobs with a payroll exceeding $235 million.
Looking ahead, we’re excited about the initiatives we have planned for 2019. We will be helping 38,000 Franklin County households advance to 65-gallon wheeled recycling carts. The new, larger carts, made possible in part through a grant from The Recycling Partnership, will help increase recycling and reduce litter. We will also be working to find markets for certain types of waste that can be viably sorted, to identify startup companies that could locate on SWACO property, and to advance a solar project on the closed Model Landfill. Lastly, we plan on developing a strategy to reduce the carbon emissions for assets managed by SWACO.
As our population continues to grow, planning for an increase in waste and diversion will be critical to keeping disposal costs low, preserving landfill space, reaching a greater rate of diversion and supporting a strong local economy.
We look forward to achieving all of this together.
Ty Marsh, Executive Director