You Paid For It: Some left without recycling after SWACO removes large bins across Columbus

COLUMBUS (WCMH) — It just got a little more difficult for many Columbus residents to recycle after the Solid Waste Authority of Central Ohio removed more than a hundred large public recycling bins across the city. This leaves some residents in what’s being called a recycling desert.

Now, the public utility service created by lawmakers with your tax dollars is looking at reevaluating its recycling programs.

“Without having those available it definitely has left a hole in the community,” Emmanuel Remy said, a Northland resident.

Remy is also the president of the Northland Community Council, an area of town that’s left with little to no recycling options other than traditional blue bins outside freestanding homes.

“These smaller bins fill up easily, and we only get service every two weeks” Remy said.

Some apartment dwellers and commercial businesses solely rely on SWACO large public bins. In addition to Northland, Clintonville also has been left with fewer recycling options.

The recycling drop-off program has been around for more than 10 years, but according to Kyle O’Keefe with SWACO, its use has dropped dramatically, “We have seen a decline in the amount coming through that program annually,” O’Keefe said.

In 2011, the drop-off program brought in about 16,000 tons of material. In 2016, that number dropped to just 8,500 tons. The removal of the roughly dozen large bins also coincided with the end of a recycling drop-off partnership with Columbus City Schools, who had problems with illegal dumping.

In total SWACO removed 113 large public recycling drop-off bins from Columbus City School properties in July. Those schools will now recycle through a private-partnership, not open to the public.

SWACO still has about 50 other public recycling drop-off locations across the city, and they are working are replacing the ones in areas of town left without any options.

“We are already identifying these areas and gaps that might be in the system,” O’Keefe said.

By next year SWACO hopes to replace all the bins that were removed and is looking at creating new partnerships like the one they had with CCS.

However according to O’Keefe, SWACO is currently looking at new ways for central Ohioans to recycle. Such as more frequent pick-ups to homeowners, to better options for apartment dwellers and commercial businesses. “We are actually developing programs specific to those sectors,” O’Keefe said. No word yet on when those may roll out.

To find a public recycling drop off location near you, you can go to the SWACO website. provides commenting to allow for constructive discussion on the stories we cover. In order to comment here, you acknowledge you have read and agreed to our Terms of Service. Commenters who violate these terms, including use of vulgar language or racial slurs, will be banned. Please be respectful of the opinions of others and keep the conversation on topic and civil. If you see an inappropriate comment, please flag it for our moderators to review.

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