SWACO awards over $200,000 in grants to community projects

The funding will be used to implement or improve waste reduction, reuse, recycling and composting activities.

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In pursuit of its mission to improve Franklin County’s solid waste stream, the Solid Waste Authority of Central Ohio (SWACO) has awarded $201,873 in competitive grant funding to 15 community projects to implement or improve waste reduction, reuse, recycling and composting activities.

The projects include installing refillable water bottle stations in central Ohio’s largest school district, putting recycling sorting stations in facilities that serve the public, supporting permanent community drop-off locations for food waste, and enhancing an app that connects organizations that have available food with organizations that need it.

“Interestingly, more than half of the projects this year aim to reduce residential or commercially generated food waste,” said Ty Marsh, executive director at SWACO, in a release. “This is a change from previous years and reflects our community’s growing interest in and commitment to reducing food waste.”

The announcement of SWACO’s grant awards follows information released earlier this year documenting that food waste is the top item, by weight, thrown away in Franklin County and presents one of the biggest opportunities to divert more waste from the landfill.

In addition to SWACO’s financial award, the grant program leverages an additional $127,265 in matching funds from grantees for a total investment of more than $329,000 by the community toward waste composting, recycling and waste reduction projects.

The 2020 Community Waste Reduction Grant recipients include:

Food Waste Reduction and Composting Projects

  • The city of Dublin received $6,759 to establish a food waste drop-off location for Dublin residents. The planned drop-off location is expected to serve up to 500 Dublin households and divert approximately 78,000 pounds of food waste from the landfill each year.
  • The city of Westerville received $9,240 to establish two food waste drop-off locations for Westerville residents.  
  • The city of Upper Arlington received $9,737.28 to increase the number of food waste drop-off locations from two to a maximum of five. The funding also provides for the addition of up to nine collection containers following strong participation among residents in the 2019 program, during which 13,000 pounds of food waste was collected in just four months.
  • The city of Hilliard received $9,312 to establish one-to-two food waste drop-off locations for Hilliard residents.
  • Reynoldsburg City Schools received $9,300 to make improvements to its recycling containers, signage and education at STEM Middle at Baldwin Road Junior High School as well as to establish a food waste composting program to turn cafeteria waste into compost for the school’s gardens.
  • Local Matters received $17,155.20 to provide hands-on nutrition and food waste education and in-vessel composting in central Ohio. Local Matters will install an in-vessel composting system capable of processing up to 65 pounds of food waste a day and creating 100 pounds of usable compost every week, which will be used to support its more than 25 community learning gardens.
  • PAST Foundation received $24,000 to update the SWACO Garbology 2.0 curriculum used for teaching students in 5th through 12th grades about waste reduction, recycling and composting. Garbology was first created in 2007, and the 2020 updates will be incorporated into SWACO’s existing recycling and composting resources available to all Franklin County teachers.
  • Columbus Public Health received $5,554.86 to create a food waste donation guide for businesses, like restaurants, which serve food in Columbus and Franklin County. The guide aligns with the SWACO-led Central Ohio Food Waste Initiative collaborative and seeks to provide 10,000 retail food businesses with clear, consistent and accessible guidance on donating food.
  • Food Rescue US received $16,500 to enhance an app to allow food donors to register available food, social service agencies to communicate their food and delivery needs, and volunteers to sign up to assist with rescuing and redistributing excess food. SWACO will also fund the creation of a new public education campaign to increase awareness and use of the app.

Waste Reduction and/or Reuse Projects

  • Habitat for Humanity received $35,000 for the purchase of a new 26-foot truck to collect donations for its ReStore on Bethel Road, which opened in January. Habitat for Humanity projects that, in the store’s first year of operation, 696 tons of usable material will be diverted from the landfill.
  • Columbus City Schools received $35,000 to install water bottle filling stations in 31 non-airconditioned public schools. During the 2018-2019 school year, over 530,000 single-use water bottles were used at CCS school buildings without air conditioning. With the installation of the filling stations, CCS hopes to cut the number of single-use water bottles in half.
  • Furniture Bank of Central Ohio received $7,637 to purchase reusable bulk collection containers in order to collect, store and transport more small quality household items for redistribution to families in need that would otherwise be discarded and sent to the landfill.

Recycling Projects

  • LifeCare Alliance received $2,000 to purchase 10 recycling sorting stations to be used at its three facilities for employee and guest recycling. 
  • Franklin Park Conservatory received $12,916.84 to purchase new recycling containers and signage to improve employee and visitor recycling. The conservatory will also create and distribute a flyer to visitors and include recycling messaging when greeting large groups such as schools. 
  • Franklin Township received $1,761.13 to enhance an existing recycling program at the township’s administrative offices and police and fire stations and within the roads department. Each location will receive new recycling stations for the building as well as desk-side recycling containers for administrative personnel.