COLUMBUS (WCMH) — A recent study, based on 18,000 Columbus households, showed that about half of the waste generated is being recycled for the first time ever, according to the Solid Waste Authority of Central Ohio, or SWACO.
The Jackson Township Sanitary Landfill in southern Franklin County receives a million pounds of food waste daily, said Hanna Greer-Brown, SWACO Communications Manager.
“We used to just throw everything away, just put it at the curb and not worry about where it went,” said Greer-Brown. “Recycling has become much more important and something that we value.”
Greer-Brown said there is constant planning for the future. Two million tons of material are currently sent through the landfill each year, with half of that going through a recycling process and composted into elements such as brown soil. New cells are being excavated for future containment of waste.
A significant portion of the recycled material in Franklin County goes to the Rumpke material recovery facility in Columbus, where plastic bottles and jugs, glass bottles and jars, metal cans, cartons, paper, and cardboard are separated and baled.
Companies are able to find material for their businesses, which is heated up, melted and turned into plastic products.
Gayane Makaryan, a Rumpke Waste and Recycling spokesperson, said that 60,000 tons of glass are diverted from landfills annually, with material transported to Dayton to be further processed.
“Plastic bags do not belong in your curbside containers or drop boxes. Because it’s such a niche market, they need to be recycled at the grocery store. We also do not want any bagged material. Plastic bags can really harm our machines, and cause down time for our plant,” said Makaryan.
Another item that does not belong in recycling containers is batteries, which should be dropped off at a designated SWACO location (www.swaco.org).
“The Columbus recycling plant processes 10,000 to 12,000 tons of material a month,” said Makaryan. She noted that clothing should be donated, not sent to a recycling plant adding, “80% of the material that Rumpke processes stays in Ohio, and 98% of it stays in the United States.”
The City of Columbus started its curbside recycling in 2012. “Over 70 percent of residents are using those containers,” said Greer-Brown. Yet we can still do better, she said, pointing out that 76 percent of what is currently in the landfill could potentially have been recycled.