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Results Announced from Waste Management Study

Madison Koenig
February 8, 2013

On February 4th, researchers from Ohio University's Voinovich School of Leadership and Public Affairs presented the results of a waste management feasibility study to the Athens-Hocking Solid Waste District Board. The study was completed as a part of the Appalachia Ohio Zero Waste Initiative (AOZWI), and researchers from TechGROWTH Ohio worked in coalition with Rural Action, a nonprofit organization that works with communities to build sustainable development projects in rural Appalachia.

The researchers found that it would be economically feasible to build a Materials Recovery Facility for dealing with solid waste from Athens and Hocking County. The study identified the conditions under which a Materials Recovery Facility could be operated profitably and sustainably in the Athens-Hocking Solid Waste District. Kyle O'Keefe from Rural Action and Sonita Uijt de Haag and John Glazer from TechGROWTH Ohio authored the report.

The potential Materials Recovery Facility would service both Athens and Hocking Counties. It would be a central location to collect, sort, and sell recycled materials, reducing the amount of solid waste in the district. Researchers found that the operation could be initially financed, and that over time it would pay for itself. Glazer believes that the facility could serve as a hub for a number of small businesses and that it could help generate jobs and wealth in the district.

Researchers also completed two complementary surveys with the feasibility study. The first component was a survey of local residents' recycling habits. This survey revealed that 75% of Athens and Hocking County residents report recycling most or all of the time. The survey also found that residents would be
more likely to recycle if it was more convenient, with pickup services or more
local drop-off sites, and if they had more information about where, when, and
how it can be done.

The second component is an analysis of twelve different waste management programs throughout the state. The survey focused on programs in areas similar to Athens and Hocking Counties. The programs ranged from a Buy-Back system in Adams and Brown counties for aluminum cans and other common metals to an Anti-Illegal Dumping initiative in Lawrence and Scioto Counties.This survey aimed to examine different programs that could be possibly implemented in Athens and Hocking counties, in addition to the Materials Recovery Facility. The goal of these case studies was to identify best practices throughout the state and to describe how other Ohio communities have approached the problem of increasing recycling.

A third party consultant will review the results of the study and determine whether to implement the findings. Those involved with the study are currently waiting for their review and consideration.

This study will serving as the basis for the creation of a Zero Waste Action Plan for Athens and Hocking counties in the upcoming year.

To learn more about the Appalachia Ohio Zero Waste
Initiative, please visit Rural Action's website, at: