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Zero Waste Initiative En Route — Original Press Release


Nelsonville- Nearly 40 people gathered at the Nelsonville Public Library on Tuesday, October 22, to launch a zero waste planning process for Athens and Hocking Counties.

“There was good energy in the room. People are geared up to improve the way we manage our resources in Athens and Hocking Counties,” said Rural Action Zero Waste Initiative Coordinator Kyle O’Keefe.

According to AOZWI, the action plan will chart a pathway to reduce landfill waste and increase resource recovery. It will be used to leverage funding to improve education, improve infrastructure, increase business development, decrease illegal dumping, and make recycling, composting, reuse, and waste reduction easier for participants.

The planning process is being organized by the Appalachia Ohio Zero Waste Initiative (AOZWI). AOZWI is coordinated by Rural Action in partnership with the Voinovich School of Leadership and Public Affairs at Ohio University, and funded by the Sugar Bush Foundation, a supporting organization of the Ohio University Foundation.


Athens County Commissioner Chris Chmiel, Hocking Hills Tourism Association Director Karen Raymore, and OEPA Solid Waste District Unit Supervisor Andrew Booker offered words of welcome and encouragement. Booker stated that this zero waste action planning process and the degree to which it engages the community is unlike anything OEPA has seen in the state.

Public and agency officials, residents, teachers, university and college representatives, and nonprofit organizations were all in attendance. Attendees will be joining one of five working groups: Infrastructure & Access, Education & Outreach, Illegal Dumping & Burning, Hard-to-Recycle Materials, and Business Development.

Working group members will review a draft of the zero waste action plan, which was developed after a series of 10 community meetings that took place in 2012. The members will suggest additions or changes to the plan, identify plan priorities and a timeline, and set specific targets for action steps included in the plan. There will be a public vetting process beginning in December.

Contact: Erin Katherine Sykes, 9030 Hocking Hills Dr., The Plains, OH 45780, 740-677-4047,,