Appalachian Ohio Zero Waste InitiativeProject led by Rural Action
About the project.
The Appalachia Ohio Zero Waste Initiative (AOZWI) is a collaboration in Southeast Ohio between Rural Action and the Ohio University Voinovich School of Leadership and Public Service that is turning waste into resources and changing the way the region thinks about waste. And change is happening in the community and on campus!
Since the Sugar Bush Foundation’s incubation of AOZWI in 2010, recycling rates in Athens and Hocking Counties have quadrupled to as high as 37%. Rural communities, which previously had no access to recycling, now have 22 drop-off sites for recyclables and/or residential collection of recyclables along with trash. AOZWI supported the startup of Zero Waste Event Productions, LLC, an independent social enterprise that supports enhanced waste diversion at events across the nation. In addition, the City of Athens and many local businesses have taken the Zero Waste Pledge to improve waste management within their buildings. On campus, students are engaged in hands-on learning as they work with numerous university departments and student groups to embed sustainability and waste diversion policies. And a new initiative launched this year that connects K-12 students across Appalachia with online environmental education modules such as “Reduce, Reuse, Recycle.”
Moving forward, Rural Action and Ohio University aims to engage and empower regional leaders, create momentum for the AOZWI model to reach beyond Athens and Hocking Counties, educate the next generation of students and leaders in sustainability, increase capacity for recycling and businesses to use the feedstocks from recovery of materials from waste, and connect our thriving culture of entrepreneurs with information and resources to succeed.
FAO staff comments.
AOZWI educates people of all ages to more mindful of how they approach waste. First by providing additional opportunities for Southeast Ohio residents to recycle, but also providing training opportunities to identify and implement strategies to prevent waste in the first place.
The next phase of this work is to enhance opportunities to use recovered waste products to create entirely new industries and entrepreneurship opportunities in the region.