Reducing Waste and Improving Recycling for Franklin County Residents and Businesses

In communities around Central Ohio, we are continuing to reduce waste and recycle right. Learn more about the progress we’ve made in the past year. Highlights include new residential recycling achievements, contactless drop-off programs and commercial recycling resources.

98% of Franklin County households have access to curbside recycling programs
50% Franklin County's diversion rate beats the national average

Reducing Waste and Improving Recycling for Franklin County Residents and Businesses

Forty percent of Franklin County’s waste stream is generated by residents, families and other households, yet less than half of the recyclables these households could recycle are captured. 

In Franklin County, the most frequently tossed-out items include food, cardboard, paper towels and napkins, and magazines and newspapers which all could be diverted from the landfill. Many don’t know that these all have the potential to be reused, recycled, or composted through programs available today.

 In order to capture these materials before they end up in the landfill, communities in Central Ohio are working with SWACO to improve and expand curbside recycling and drop-off composting programs for residents. By working together, we will be more successful in reaching our goal to divert an additional 25% of generated materials away from the county landfill and reach a record high rate of 75% diversion by 2032. 

100% of Franklin County Cities Now Offer Residents a Curbside Recycling Program

2020 marked the implementation of a curbside recycling program for the first time in the city of Canal Winchester. As a result, all Franklin County’s cities now offer households a convenient curbside recycling program. 

Canal Winchester

3,000 households received curbside recycling carts with Rumpke.
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Equipped with information and learnings from SWACO, the City was able to put this information to work in a new contract for waste hauling and recycling services.

3,000 households received curbside recycling carts and educational information from SWACO’s Recycle Right, Make a Difference program which makes it easy for residents to know which items to place in the new carts and which to avoid.

SWACO’s Community Consortium Program Drives Results in Central Ohio’s Communities

In the City of Whitehall, Pleasant Township, and communities across Franklin County, there’s been a significant improvement in recycling.

SWACO’s Community Consortium Program assists communities with realizing greater value from their hauling contracts through a competitive, collaborative bidding process for curbside trash, recycling, and yard waste services.

In 2020, 9 communities participated in SWACO’s Consortium II program, which supported 15,000 Franklin County homes in securing yard waste and recycling services.

Today, 98% of all Franklin County households have access to curbside recycling programs, many of which include the removal of yard waste materials.


The city received over $200,000 in grants from SWACO and The Recycling Partnership for a pilot and program changes.
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The City of Whitehall, a consortium program member, also switched to a new volume-based trash collection program that allows residents to reduce their trash bill by recycling more, providing a community-wide incentive to recycle.

This program included a transition from small recycling bins to larger, more convenient recycling carts. Residents were also offered 3 sizes of trash carts from which to choose and which correlate with the price they pay for their service. Approximately 5,500 households now have a standard garbage and recycling cart, in addition to curbside yard waste collection services.

Whitehall received over $200,000 in grants from SWACO and The Recycling Partnership to purchase recycling carts for their residents.

Residents now have a container for trash and recycling which will help with blowing litter and beautifies the community during trash and recycling pick-up days. Before, an assortment of containers, and even bags, of waste were placed at the curb in an unlimited and sometimes uncontained way. Improvements will lead to future efficiencies in bidding for services.

Prior to the new system, the set-out rate for recycling, or what percentage of homes were setting out recycling bins for weekly pick-up, was only 26%. After the switch to the new-and-improved recycling carts, around 60% of homes set out recycling each week.

“With the help of grants from SWACO and The Recycling Partnership, these new carts have been provided at no charge to residents,” said Whitehall Mayor Kim Maggard. “Our goal? To increase Whitehall’s waste-diversion rate, which is 14% as compared to the countywide average of 50%.”

Learn more about the program here.

Pleasant Township

Pleasant Township also saw success in the number of people participating in recycling. Set-out rates went from 41% to as high as 70%.
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Pleasant Township, also a consortium member, received over $70,000 from SWACO and The Recycling Partnership for new recycling carts for their residents and to provide residents with educational recycling materials.

Approximately 2,000 households in the community went from smaller, 16-gallon recycling bins to larger, more convenient 64-gallon carts. Residents also receive yard waste removal.

In Pleasant Township set-out rates soared to 70%, up 30% over previous rates.

More information on the program’s results are available here.

“Recycling not only makes good sense from an environmental perspective, but it also leads to reduced costs for our residents,” said Nancy Hunter, Pleasant Township trustee. “Our partnership with SWACO and The Recycling Partnership program is an example of how our community is dedicated to using innovative methods to create a standardized recycling process that will ultimately reduce collection costs long-term for Pleasant Township.”



More Communities Join Recycle Right, Make a Difference

Thousands of households already participate in the Recycle Right, Make a Difference educational program, which helps people better understand exactly what can and can’t be recycled at the curb each week in Franklin County.

Last year alone, 7 new communities joined the program and as a result 30,000 households received recycling materials in the mail, had the chance to attend an educational webinar and received advertisements aimed at helping them become better, more confident recyclers.

City of Dublin and Washington Township

Coming Together to Educate
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The city of Dublin and Washington Township joined forces to share recycling education with their 16,000 households.

City of New Albany and Plain Township

Getting the Word Out
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Similarly, the city of New Albany and Plain Township worked together to distribute important recycling information to 4,000 households in their communities.

Expanded Drop-Off Program

For residents who live in condominiums or apartment complexes and don’t have access to a curbside recycling program, SWACO provides drop-off recycling containers at 50 convenient locations throughout Franklin County. This service is also free for Franklin County businesses to use.

The drop-off locations accept the same materials as the curbside programs. Virtually all household papers and cardboard, plastic bottles, tubs and jugs, metal cans, carton containers and glass bottles and jars are accepted. SWACO recently added 2 new drop-off locations to better serve residents in Columbus and the Southeastern portion of Franklin County.

PAST Foundation located at: 1003 Kinnear Rd, Columbus, OH 43212

Jerry L. Garver YMCA located at: 6767 Refugee Rd, Canal Winchester, OH 43110

A complete list of those convenient drop-off recycling locations can be found here.

Summary of Collection Events

SWACO also provided several contact-less collection events throughout the year to assist homeowners with diverting their hard-to-recycle household items such as gasoline, oil-based paints, lawn chemicals, medicines, yard signs and electronic waste in a way that was safe during the pandemic.

Last year, those programs diverted 121 million pounds from the landfill.

2020 Diversion Totals:

Drop Off Recycling Program
Drop Off Recycling Program: 12,017,000 Pounds
79,687 pounds
Household Waste
Household Waste:
648,000 pounds of material
1,890 pounds
Political Signs
Political Signs:
3,000 pounds of recycled metal and many more pounds of recycled plastic and cardboard signs

Commercial Recycling

While many schools, restaurants and businesses were closed last year due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the majority of the material that came to the landfill was still generated by the commercial sector.

SWACO spent the year helping local businesses by issuing guidance to help with reopening in more sustainable ways and providing all businesses with access and information on implementing best practices for reducing waste and improving recycling and composting.

Helping Business Re-Open Sustainably During COVID-19

From closings and reopening’s to mask mandates and capacity restrictions, Central Ohio businesses and restaurants experienced a learning curve in 2020. Because of the temporary closings that accompanied the pandemic, many were left with excess food, cutlery and containers and wondering what to do to cut down on PPE waste.

Through all of these questions and more, SWACO was there to help provide guidance along the way.

Launch of New Business Recycling Resources

For many Central Ohio residents, recycling is becoming an expectation not only at home but where they work and where they spend their money. As the workforce in the region becomes younger, many firms also find that their potential employees want to work for companies with commitments to sustainability, community involvement and social responsibility.

To help area businesses, SWACO rolled out several new Business Recycling Resources that assist with everything from planning a sustainability program to successfully working with a waste hauler and educating future employees.

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Fostering Regional Collaboration

Hundreds of partners have come together to help solve the issue of food waste. Learn about those efforts and how they’re gaining national recognition.