SWACO (Solid Waste Authority of Central Ohio) announced today that it has reintroduced its successful Recycle Right, Make a Difference awareness and education initiative with a goal to help Franklin County residents recycle more household items instead of throwing them away.
While central Ohio’s rate of recycling continues to exceed the national average, each year more than 700,000 tons of materials that could otherwise be recycled continues to arrive at the landfill.
With the fastest growing population in the state of Ohio, the need to educate Franklin County residents remains a top priority, SWACO officials said. Today’s average household only captures about 40% of the recyclables they could, leaving a lot of opportunity to recycle more.
“Central Ohioans care deeply about their ability to recycle and thankfully, in recent years, the list of materials accepted for recycling has grown to include items such as plastic tubs and cups but not every household may be aware that more items can be recycled,” said SWACO’s Executive Director Joe Lombardi. “Recycle Right is an initiative to help provide awareness and education to our community about all the items in your home that can be recycled.’
A 2022 public opinion poll released by SWACO documented an increase in the number of households who self-reported their recycling habits as “below average.” SWACO officials suspect that the reduction in the number of average or better recyclers in central Ohio may be an outcome of recent national dialogue about diminished recycling programs across the United States and contributing to a belief among local recyclers that even when they recycle correctly, recyclables still wind up in the landfill.
Data shows that’s not the case in Franklin County. Not only has the residential recycling program grown in the last two years to accept more materials, more than 80% of collected residential materials stay in the state of Ohio and nearly 100% are recycled into new products in the United States.
SWACO’s Recycle Right initiative focuses on generating recycling awareness and education through social media, television, and other advertising efforts as well as through meaningful engagement and outreach activities. Additionally, SWACO has worked with more than two dozen communities to implement various educational components of Recycle Right at the community level.
Now, Recycle Right will include more specific efforts to reach self-reported ‘half-hearted’ recyclers. The reintroduced campaign seeks to build confidence that their recycling efforts matter and encourage them to recycle more items. New resources group common recyclables by area of the home. For example, bathroom recyclables can include cardboard toilet paper rolls, tissue boxes and shampoo bottles, while mailboxes and porches are home to recyclable materials such as magazines, junk mail and cardboard boxes.
“We are optimistic that by coupling recyclables together by location in the home, we’ll help families level up their recycling actions by inviting them to build upon their current actions to collect common household recyclables and recycle additional household items,” continued Lombardi. “Most people know their plastic water bottle can be recycled but they may not know their empty laundry detergent bottles can too.”
The updates to the Recycle Right materials also highlight the economic impacts of recycling.
Not only do the majority of central Ohio’s residential recyclables remain in Ohio as new products, but Franklin County’s recycling industry also supports more than 5,000 jobs and brings in $1.3 billion in revenue annually — economic impact that could grow even more with increased recycling.
“Anything we can do to educate people about the importance of recycling and to get them to increase their participation is a win for everyone,” said Jeff Snyder, Director of Recycling for Rumpke Wast and Recycling. “The new state of the art, Rumpke Recycling and Resource Center is going to come online next summer, and we will be ready to handle everything that people can provide. Additionally, our end users, many of whom are in Ohio and the Midwest, help make sure that we close the loop and put those recyclable materials to good use, keeping them out of the landfill. This feeds the circular economy by keeping the recyclables, the new products, the jobs and more in Ohio, all while working to improve the environment.”
The Recycle Right campaign, introduced in 2018, generates recycling awareness and education through social media and television advertising and had a focus on helping residents understand what’s accepted in the weekly curbside recycling program. The 2023 campaign will now shift direction towards helping residents who currently recycle, do more as well as promoting all of the added benefits of recycling correctly.
To find out which materials can be recycled in Franklin County, visit RecycleRight.org.