New research from the Solid Waste Authority of Central Ohio (SWACO) shows Central Ohio residents are supportive of waste reduction and recycling initiatives, and in fact, would like to see more. In February 2022, SWACO, working with Columbus-based EMC Research, conducted a representative sample survey of 1,300 Franklin County residents inquiring about their attitudes and behaviors towards reducing waste and gathering opinions on local recycling efforts. Ninety-two percent (92%) of residents reported that they believe recycling reflects well on their community and that cities and governments should be promoting recycling and composting. Eighty-nine percent (89%) support Central Ohio’s initiatives to reach 75% diversion by 2032 and an additional 82% believe that recycling and reducing waste can help mitigate the impacts of climate change on their community. “Reducing waste, recycling, and using our resources more efficiently have become part of the fabric of our community and these results affirm that residents value their ability to act sustainably,” notes Kyle O’Keefe, Director of Innovation and Programs for SWACO.
The majority of residents (87%) find it to be convenient and easy to recycle, with 66% of households reporting that they make above average efforts to do so. However, when asked about barriers, 74% of residents reported confusion about keeping track of what items are accepted for recycling. In terms of food waste — the single largest source of material in the region’s waste stream — 83% of Central Ohioans are concerned about the amount of food being wasted in their community and the vast majority (78%) support a curbside food waste collection program for composting. And 29% of residents report composting food or yard waste at home or via a drop off location.
In recent years, SWACO has launched a variety of initiatives to combat food waste, which has led to the development of new services and programs such as publicly available drop-offs for food scraps and its Save More Than Food campaign. The Authority is currently working with regional communities to explore the development of new composting infrastructure that would help to enhance food waste diversion and enable curbside collection programs. Upper Arlington, a city in SWACO’s service area, began a curbside collection pilot in April that will roll out to 600 single-family households. The city has three drop-off locations for household food scraps.
Findings of the 2022 SWACO public opinion poll are available at this link.