By Noell Wolfgram Evans
Residents of Franklin County should feel good about their recycling efforts. Currently the 41 communities inside the county recycle 46 percent of their waste. That’s 14 percent higher than the national average.
While the Franklin County number is good, The Solid Waste Authority of Central Ohio (SWACO) believes it can be better. That’s the push behind their new program “Recycle Right, Make a Difference,” which aims to see that number at 50 percent by 2020.
Hanna Greer-Brown, communications manager at SWACO, said that the program is one of education and awareness. The effort will be rolled out across Franklin County through 2018. First up is a pilot program in Grove City, Jackson Township and Urbancrest.
Last year, residents in these three communities were polled on their recycling awareness, participation, and understanding. Their answers helped to guide the tenants of this new program. Among those are educational materials and magnets designed to help residents keep recycling top of mind. Residents of Grove City, Jackson Township and Urbancrest should be receiving their magnets in the mail.
“SWACO owns and operates the landfill,” Greer-Brown said, “and it gives us a unique insight into the trash stream.
Currently the landfill takes in about one million pounds of trash every year. About 70 percent of that could be recycled and/or diverted.”
Diversion is a term SWACO uses for material that could be repurposed as opposed to being added to the landfill. It includes items that could be donated, composted, waste recycled, or otherwise given new life.
In addition to the three communities in the pilot program, SWACO will be working closely with Local Waste and Rumpke as both collect (and in Rumpke’s case process) the recycling.
The pilot program is expected to run into April. At that time, SWACO will be able to monitor the recycling tonnage that was collected and compare it to similar periods in order to gauge the effectiveness of the campaign.
Greer-Brown said that SWACO hopes to see a marked increase as people “get back to the basics of recycling.”
SWACO is targeting single family, residential homes with this effort. The program has a dedicated focus on awareness as Greer-Brown shared that one of the growing issues they’ve faced has been recycling contamination. This occurs when people try and recycle materials that can’t be recycled in Franklin County.
“Yogurt containers and butter cups are big ones,” Greer-Brown admitted. “Those can be recycled, just not in Franklin County at this time.” When people contaminant their recycling with these non-recyclables, it slows the recycling process down and adds costs.
Currently there are only five types of materials that can be recycled in Franklin County. Those are paper and cardboard, plastic bottles and jugs, glass bottles and jars, metal cans, and cartons.
For more information on how and where to recycle, donate, or dispose of items, visit SWACO.org/RecycleRight.