The Issue and Opportunity

Across the country, millions of tons of food are wasted each year. In Central Ohio, it’s estimated that Franklin County residents and businesses landfill approximately 12.8% of the material by weight or 143,616 tons [2017].  Food waste diversion in Central Ohio is currently measured at a rate of 7.2%.  There are opportunities to increase the current diversion rate through the development of prevention, recovery (or rescue) and recycling opportunities. 

The Central Ohio Food Waste Initiative aims to reduce food waste and leverage it as a resource to benefit our region. Consistent with the food waste hierarchy, the Initiative takes a holistic approach by focusing on preventing food waste, recovering edible food waste for redistribution, and recycling food waste through agriculture uses such as composting.

The Initiative is facilitated by SWACO – the Solid Waste Authority of Central Ohio. SWACO’s mission is to improve the community’s waste stream through effective reduction, recycling, and disposal. SWACO offers a range of programs to promote and incentivize waste reduction and diversion and operates two solid waste transfer stations and the Franklin County Sanitary Landfill. In SWACO’s recently approved Solid Waste Management Plan, food waste is identified as a major opportunity for reducing the waste stream.



COFWI is also a highly collaborative process that unifies efforts to reduce and repurpose food waste throughout the Central Ohio region. Together, the stakeholders identified and addressed the challenges, needs, and barriers for overcoming this issue, developing solutions and pooling resources, and bolstering the great work that is already underway. Central Ohio is fortunate to have established agencies, organizations, and businesses involved in food waste prevention, rescue and recycling.  Bringing these stakeholders together provided the opportunity to identify shared goals and collaboration.  SWACO engaged two consultancies to support the process – Biehl Consultancy, with a focus on the stakeholder process and engagement, and Resource Recycling Systems, with a focus on content regarding solutions for food waste.


Food Waste Action Plan

The first major deliverable for COFWI is the development of this Food Waste Action Plan that will serve as a roadmap for achieving common goals.  The holistic and collaborative approach of the Action Plan strives to establish commitments and support from local and regional organizations, institutions, businesses and individuals within the value chain.

Central Ohio Food Waste Action Plan (May 2019)

Crossword Puzzle (Answer)


Videos, Articles, and Media

MORPC pilots a home-to-work composting program in which employees will be able to collect food waste generated at their homes and offices for composting. (Facebook)

SWACO works with Columbus City Schools and Kroger to study and reduce food waste in our community! Hear about how Maize Elementary is leading the way to cut food waste in their cafeteria.

Hilliard City Schools cafeteria composting program reduces food waste and replaces non-recyclable polystyrene lunch trays with compostable ones.

SWACO and Franklinton Farms work together to encourage composting, reduce hunger in central Ohio.