Food waste pilot project yields big results in Ohio

Central Ohioans achieve one of the highest waste diversion rates in the Midwest

Food & farming

Backyard compost bins
Antranias |
Backyard compost bins

Central Ohioans diverted 51% of their waste from landfills in 2021 according to the 2021 Community Impact Report from the Solid Waste Authority of Central Ohio (SWACO). That diversion rate is “one of the highest rates in the Midwest and more evidence that Central Ohioans value reducing their reliance on the landfill by now recycling more material than is landfilled,” SWACO reported today. 

Notably, much of that diversion came from strong participation in programs to address food waste. The Save More Than Food (SMTF) campaign set a goal in 2020 to cut Central Ohio’s food waste in half by 2030, in alignment with a federal goal to cut food waste nationally on the same timeline. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) granted SWACO $60,000 to study household food behaviors and the success of the SMTF campaign. The study, completed by the City of Upper Arlington and The Ohio State University, found that residents captured and diverted 138,000 pounds of food waste from the landfill. In addition, 21% of households reduced the amount of food waste they created and there was a 40% increase in the use of the city’s food waste drop off program.

SWACO is expanding on the campaign’s success in Upper Arlington partnering with 10 other communities to slash food waste.

According to the impact report, there’s still ample room for improvement: “The majority of [waste that was landfilled in 2021] (76%) had the potential to be reused, recycled or composted providing exciting opportunities to reach Central Ohio’s goal of 75% diversion by 2032.”


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