The Zero Waste Action Plan

 A Zero Waste Plan for Appalachian Ohio


The Zero Waste Action Plan (ZWAP) for Athens and Hocking Counties aims to provide a unified vision and path for a robust waste management system that will enable Athens and Hocking Counties to work toward becoming a zero waste economy.

The Appalachia Ohio Zero Waste Initiative worked with stakeholders in the Athens-Hocking Solid Waste District to create a ten-year Zero Waste Action Plan (ZWAP). The plan lays out short-term and long-term steps to reach zero waste in Athens and Hocking Counties. Stakeholder interviews and community forums were a key part of plan development. Working groups came together to address the issues surrounding access to recycling, education and outreach, illegal dumping and burning, and business development. The writing of the ZWAP was completed in December of 2013, and since that time many governmental and non-profit organizations have signed letters of support for the ZWAP.

Zero Waste Economy Graphic with title

AOZWI’s Zero Waste Action Plan identifies small steps to achieve these goals over the next 10 years in order to improve the health of our communities and our economy. Below you will find examples of progress our community has already made in making the ZWAP a reality.

The eight sections include:


Traditional Recyclables

Improve our local infrastructure and make recycling easy for residents and businesses

  • As of January 2016 the Athens-Hocking Recycling Center is operating a single-stream sorting Materials Resource Facility (MRF).
  • As of June 2015 plastics #1-7 as well as film plastics are accepted by the Athens-Hocking Recycling Center.
  • A 2015 grant increased Athens-Hocking Recycling Center’s glass processing capabilities in order to accept glass recycling from Athens restaurants and bars.
  • Learn more about how to recycle various materials in Athens and Hocking Counties.
Reuse and Repair

Increase the capture and sale of reusable and repairable goods, and launch a program to help recycle non-repairable and unsaleable goods.

  • Several thrift stores have been established in Athens, Ohio supporting reuse and repair of appliances, computers, clothing, and household goods.
  • ReUse Industries organizes Fix-it Workshops to encourage people to fix broken belongings instead of sending them to the landfill. Learn more about Fix-it Workshops here.
  • Ohio University MoveOUt efforts rescue items destined for the landfill.

Increase and promote existing composting options for residents and businesses.

  • Athens-Hocking Organics offers curbside composting collection service in Athens City, Chauncey, The Plains, and Nelsonville.
  • Latta Earth Works sells mulch and soil amendments from their class 4 compost facility.
  • Learn about Athens-Hocking Organics.
 Construction and Demolition

Increase recycling and reuse options for construction and demolition material from newly built, renovated, and demolished buildings.

  • Habitat for Humanity’s ReStore  offers reuse options for home furnishings and construction supplies.
 Special Discards 

Increase options for safe disposal of hazardous items and traditionally hard-to-recycle items.

  • The Athens-Hocking Recycling Center collects alkaline batteries for a small fee and rechargeable batteries free of charge. They also accept electronics at their Millfield drop-off location.
Education and Outreach 

Develop a comprehensive communication strategy that informs the public of why, what, when, where, and how to recycle and increase waste-related education in K-12 schools.

  • As of 2016, Rural Action’s Zero Waste Program has helped Athens City Schools implement recycling in every building and at high school football games.
  • Rural Action published a Zero Waste Toolkit for Schools, which serves as a reference guide when starting new recycling and composting programs within a school.
  • Nelsonville-York Elementary placed new recycling bin in 2015.
  • Thirty-four waste assessments have been completed for businesses, schools and individuals.
  • Learn More about Educational Opportunities offered through The Zero Waste Program.
Illegal Dumping and Burning

Prevent and  illegal dumping through collaboration of communities and public agencies.

  • An active working group assists members in solving the problem of illegal dumping and burning.
  • Keep South East Ohio Beautiful has secured several Cigarette Litter Prevention grants that have helped place cigarette butt recycling containers in the City of Athens and the Village of Haydenville.
  • The Athens’ Sheriff’s Office has hired a designated environmental law enforcement officer.
  • Rural action works with partners and communities to organize volunteer cleanups of dumpsites. Learn more about Rural Action’s dumpsite cleanups.
Economic Development and Financial Resources 

Support the expansion of existing recycling-based businesses and the growth of new recycling-based businesses.

  • Rural action helped write a feasibility study for the single-stream Material Recovery Facility at the Athens-Hocking Recycling Center
NEW! Waste Reduction

Support organizations and individuals active in reducing waste generation.

 Read the full action plan here