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April marks the start of Earth Month, a time that encourages action and initiative in lessening our impact on the environment by reducing waste and committing to recycling and composting. These actions also serve to strengthen the local economy and help families and residents in communities who benefit from donated household items and rescued meals.
The most recent and comprehensive data available suggests that the Franklin County community recycles (including reuse and composting activities) half of the all the waste created, while the other 50 percent goes to the landfill. Landfilled materials such as food waste, cardboard and other reusable and recyclable materials, which have the potential to be diverted, make up the majority (76 percent) of all material entering the landfill daily.
“These divertible materials present a strong opportunity for the community to increase its rate of recycling and reduce reliance on the landfill. By working together, we can cut our food waste in half and reach a 75 percent diversion goal by 2032.” said Kyle O’Keefe, SWACO’s Director of Innovation and Programs. “When we choose to recycle correctly, our efforts protect the environment by reducing pollution – creating cleaner air and water, conserving natural resources and protecting wildlife habitat. Recycling right also strengthens the local economy through ensuring the nearly 400 region businesses who rely on recyclables, which employ 5,000 people and generate $1.3 billion in revenue, have a steady stream of materials for business.”
SWACO is working with local communities, schools and universities, restaurants, non-profits, business leaders and other public and private partners to reduce the amount of food and other waste being created in the central Ohio region.
This year alone, SWACO has awarded over $200,000 to support 14 community waste reduction projects including funding two new community drop-off sites for food waste in the cities of Grove City and Grandview Heights. Today, half a dozen central Ohio communities offer convenient ways for residents to divert food waste from the landfill. See if your community offers a drop-off program, learn how to compost at home or find a subscription-based composting service here.
While food waste is the most frequent item to be tossed out by local residents, cardboard is at the top for the commercial sector, which includes multi-family housing units, schools and businesses. With 60 percent of all landfill material generated by commercial organizations, SWACO has released resources for businesses to help improve or establish recycling programs in order to capture more cardboard and other accepted recyclables.
In addition, SWACO is supporting a national pilot program in central Ohio aimed to help residents and families in apartments more easily and conveniently recycle.
Learn more about recycling right in Franklin County and how you can make a difference at RecycleRight.org.
Find a list of Earth Month events on the calendar at swaco.org