Earlier this year, SWACO conducted a poll among 1,300 Franklin County residents to understand current and future behaviors and desires for waste reduction, recycling and composting activities.
For us to continue to improve efforts to reach our desired 75% diversion rate by 2032, a goal supported by 89% of residents according to the data, hearing directly from those we serve is critical.
We were pleased to see the research shows central Ohio residents are satisfied with their waste and recycling services.
Specifically, 78% of residents find recycling at home to be convenient and easy. Residents are motivated to reduce their reliance on the landfill because of both the environmental benefits and the positive impact to the economy.
In fact, the survey found that 73% of residents reported a greater likelihood of shopping at businesses that use environmentally friendly products, and 78% believe businesses should be required to offer recycling services to customers and employees.
Residents are eager to see more, expressing a strong desire for more opportunities to reduce their reliance on the landfill.
The poll shows 89% of residents would like to see new or improved composting and recycling efforts at their school or workplace, and 78% would support a curbside food-waste collection program. Further, when it comes to food waste – the largest source of landfill material in central Ohio – 83% of residents expressed concern for the amount of food being wasted in our community.
And yet, challenges remain.
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With recent changes to the curbside recycling program, confusion exists about what is accepted for recycling, particularly when it comes to materials like clear plastic packages with lids, such as the clamshell containers produce commonly comes in, which are not yet accepted for recycling.
This research shows the importance of SWACO’s work around education and engagement in communities across the region to ensure we’re not only recycling but also recycling correctly.
There’s also an opportunity to help remove the barriers to better recycling. For example, one of four residents living in multifamily homes reported the biggest barrier to reducing waste at home was having to travel in order to recycle.
SWACO is proud to work with both public and private partners to address and improve the issues faced by our community, but we recognize the need for funding, new infrastructure and support to bring even more innovative sustainability ideas to life.
Our Community Waste Reduction grant program is accepting applications for 2023 projects that address unique diversion needs in central Ohio and emphasize partnership building and collaboration.
We encourage schools, universities, local governments, parks or nonprofits with a great sustainability idea to consider applying for a CWR grant. To review eligibility requirements and download an application, go to swaco.org/grants. To learn about SWACO’s efforts to improve residential recycling and food waste diversion, go to swaco.org.
Together, we can continue making a difference in central Ohio.
Hanna Greer-Brown is the communications manager for SWACO.