New Initiatives
Looking Ahead to Reduce Central Ohio's Reliance on Landfills
Broadening the Economic Equation
Disposal and diversion are central to SWACO's mission. As the owner and operator of the county landfill, we strive to extend its life. One way we do that is to increase the amount of materials diverted from it through waste reduction, reuse, recycling and composting programs. We also seek to leverage the waste stream for economic opportunity.

SWACO recently conducted a public opinion poll. The poll revealed that residents generally understand the environmental benefits of recycling, but there is room to increase recycling if we can better articulate its economic benefits.

To that end, SWACO issued an Economic Impact Report in June 2018. The report identified that Central Ohio's recycling industry:

has 372 businesses, employing over 5,000 people
generates $235 million in payroll
creates $1.3 billion in revenue for the region
The report also suggested that by diverting an additional 35 percent of the material being landfilled, the industry would grow by an additional 400 jobs, $19 million in payroll and $115 million in revenue.

This is precedent-setting research for Ohio and SWACO. The results help quantify the importance and impacts of the waste diversion industry and regional circular economy.

In the coming years, SWACO will be creating an economic development plan that will advance our efforts to leverage the waste stream for economic opportunity and utilize our assets (e.g. land and the materials coming to the landfill) to grow and strengthen the local economy and recycling sector in a way that furthers our mission.

Food waste has a tremendous effect on local waste streams and our economy, environment and society. We estimate that 13 to 15 percent of the material landfilled from Franklin County is food waste, things like rotten produce, leftovers and other food that goes uneaten. We estimate that 192 million meals end up in the landfill every year in Central Ohio.
That's staggering when you consider a report conducted by the Mid-Ohio Foodbank documented that 69 million meals are missed every year by residents who go hungry.
We can reduce the amount of food waste that's sent to the landfill in three ways: prevent food waste from occurring, rescue edible food and distribute it to those in need, and recycle food waste through activities such as composting.

SWACO launched the Central Ohio Food Waste Initiative (COFWI) in September 2018 as a collaborative effort using the collective impact model to reduce food waste and leverage it as a resource to benefit Central Ohio. This group of more than 60 public and private organizations was tasked with collaboratively developing a Food Waste Action Plan with the goal of cutting our region's food waste in half by 2030.

The action plan, which was released earlier this month, focuses on three priorities: preventing food waste, rescuing edible food waste and recycling food waste.

The action plan includes 19 solution areas, many of which are currently being developed, including a consumer-focused education campaign, as well as collaborative food-waste-reduction programs with local schools.

To learn more about the Central Ohio Food Waste Initiative, view the Food Waste Action Plan, or learn about ways you can reduce the amount of food waste you create, go to

Residential Recycling Carts Initiative
Five of the communities in our Community Consortium Program used a new community grant offered by SWACO to upgrade their residential recycling bins to 65-gallon or larger recycling carts. Wheeled recycling carts result in increased recycling among residents and cause less blowing litter compared to open-top 18-gallon recycling bins. The actual purchase and deployment of the new wheeled cars is taking place in early 2019 for approximately 38,000 households in Bexley, Gahanna, Reynoldsburg, Westerville and Blendon Township. This grant program will be available to additional communities in 2019. SWACO secured a grant from The Recycling Partnership for $266,000 which, along with SWACO's funding, is being used to offset the actual cost of the carts.