By Andrea Cordle
Grove City Editor
According to the Solid Waste Authority of Central Ohio (SWACO), as much as 40 percent of the food produced in the United States goes to waste. The amount of food wasted in central Ohio alone equates to wasting 41 billion gallons of water, 22 million gallons of gas, 187 million meals, and $400 million. For every Franklin County resident, there are 260 pounds of food waste landfilled each year.
As part of the Community Waste Reduction Grant, SWACO awarded more than $224,000 to several local organizations trying to reduce its waste and divert materials from the landfill. The city of Grove City was awarded $9,227 to implement a residential food waste drop-off location.
“SWACO wants to change the way our community views the waste we each create,” said Ty Marsh, executive director of SWACO. “When recoverable materials, like food, plastics and cardboard, are thrown away instead of reused or recycled, we toss out the opportunity to support local businesses and jobs and we waste precious natural resources.”
According to Linda Rosine, environmental supervisor for the city of Grove City, the food waste drop-off location will be located behind Brookpark Middle School, near the Big Splash off Southwest Boulevard. It will include a large tote-lined bin that will be collected each week and taken away for compost.
“We are very excited about this,” said Rosine. “It makes people think about all the food they waste.”
Rosine said residents who would like to participate can collect their food scraps in a composting container and drop them off in the city’s bin. Common composting items include fruit and vegetable scraps like banana peels and citrus rinds, coffee grounds, stale bread, and tea bags. Rosine said this location will accept even more food waste.
“It takes meat; it takes everything you have in your kitchen,” said Rosine.
This program will expand composting efforts in Grove City. Rosine said the city has offered composting bins at community events like the Grove City Area Chamber of Commerce Farmers Market. This will be a permanent fixture, at least during its one-year pilot program.
“This will give people an option,” said Rosine.
The cost for the residential food waste drop-off location is just over $11,600. While the city did receive the $9,277 grant from SWACO, the city will contribute about $2,400. The funds will cover the hauling expense, signage, the enclosure, and landscaping (which will include a pollinator garden). The city will work with Go ZERO to haul the food waste and compost it.
“Our goal is to keep as much out of the landfill as possible,” said Rosine. “This is another vehicle to decrease waste.”
If the pilot program is successful, Rosine said the city could offer additional drop-off locations. Once people are permitted to gather in public, the city may have compost stations at community events. Rosine also said she would be interested in exploring partnership opportunities with businesses or other organizations that may want to start a composting program.
According to Rosine, the food waste drop-off location should be up and running April 5. It is free to use, but the city would like participants to register through the parks and recreation department.
Additional information on the program will be posted on the Grove City website, www.grovecityohio.gov, in the coming weeks.
SWACO recently launched a Save More Than Food initiative. This is a campaign dedicated to sharing the impact that food waste has on the health of the community, economy, and environment. To learn more, visit savemorethanfood.org.