‘Waste to Wealth’ calls for community participation
By Michelle Robinson & Mayuri Mei Lin, CG News
Last Friday, the inaugural Waste to Wealth Post-Summit Forum took place at the Ohio University Inn.
The summit began on Thursday Sept. 13 and was hosted by the Appalachian Ohio Zero Waste Initiative (AOZWI), coordinated by Rural Action and in partnership with the Voinovich School of Leadership and Public Affairs at Ohio University.
The forum invited residents of Athens and Hocking County to discuss the need to increase recycling and to highlight effective waste-reduction programs in surrounding areas.
Attendees included members of solid waste management districts, non-profit organizations, citizens and government officials such as Athens County Commissioner Larry Payne. It was a discussion-based program, allowing participants to provide feedback on effective ways to reduce waste and increase recycling.
“The goal of this program is to look at how zero-waste approaches can help create economic advantages to communities,” said O’Keefe.
The forum also reviewed data collected over the past six months, explored economic opportunities and stimulated community involvement.
Data collected from the 2012 Athens and Hocking County Residential Survey, conducted by the Zero Waste Initiative, provided feedback from the community. Respondents recorded how often they recycled, items they recycled and challenges to recycling.
Based on the survey, 49 percent of Athens and Hocking residents say they recycle all the time. 26 percent recorded recycling most of the time, 13 percent said some of the time, 6 percent said they rarely recycle and another 6 percent said they never recycle.
When asked how much they were willing to pay for curbside recycling, 27 percent of Athens residents and 41 percent of Hocking residents said they would pay nothing.
“Some of our biggest issues are education, outreach, and access to recycling,” said O’Keefe.
Challenges that Athens and Hocking residents face when it comes to recycling and waste reduction include accessibility, inconvenience, lack of information and cost. Attendees felt that implementing new programs, providing incentives and promoting jobs were all ways to get the community more involved in the zero-waste initiative.
“We want people to feel good about recycling,” said Robin Stewart, an event facilitator with Voinovich School of Leadership and Public Affairs at Ohio University.
One way that was discussed to achieve this was to pull ideas from functional programs of surrounding counties. Such programs include the Pay-As-You-Throw and recycling drop-off program and a Center for Hard to Recycle Materials, both effective in Logan County. Anti-illegal dumping enforcement is also being considered, which is effective in Lawrence-Scioto County.
The Materials Recovery Facility Feasibility Study, conducted by AOZWI, is concerned with building recycling-facilities to be able to sustain large amounts of recyclable materials. These recyclable materials include plastics, cardboard, newspaper, magazines, glass, aluminum cans and steel cans.
Building new recycling facilities could provide a stable and consistent recycling initiative for the Athens, Logan and Nelsonville areas.
Equipment costs could range from $450,000 – $1,100,000, and the possible new facilities are projected to recycle up to 25 tons per day.