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Athens-Hocking area working toward goal of zero waste

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The introduction of a zero-waste action plan Monday night at the Athens City Council meeting may have the Athens-Hocking area inching closer to becoming a waste-free environment.

According to At-Large Representative Steve Patterson, the zero-waste plan will create a more unified and complete waste-management program for Athens and Hocking counties, as well as repurpose items that “would otherwise be buried or burnt” so they contribute to the counties’ overall well-being.

Additionally, the action plan says “an entity achieves zero waste when 90 percent or more of their waste stream is diverted from the landfill through reuse, composting, or recycling.”

After a brief introduction of the plan, Patterson allowed Erin Sykes, representative of the Appalachia Ohio Zero Waste Initiative, to take the lectern and explain the plan in detail.

According to Sykes, the first step is getting people to sign letters of support.

“Hopefully in February we will launch an Athens-Hocking Zero Waste Committee to oversee the implementation of the plan,” Sykes said.

By holding community meetings in the Athens-Hocking area, it was determined by community members what they wanted to see.

“The plans four big goals are: it needs to be easy, convenient, educational and benefit the local economy,” Sykes said. “There are very simple first steps, such as starting to publicize a phone number which could be called to report illegal dumping or burning.”

The plan would add to the continued improvement in proper waste management the city of Athens has witnessed in recent years.

Patterson attributes the improvement to “being able to really educate the public on recycling, as well as the proper recycling of brown and green glass.”

“In the past couple of years we have seen recycling percentages rise from 8 percent to 14 percent,” Sykes said. “It’s still beneath our goals, but it is an improvement.”

The complete Athens-Hocking Zero Waste Action Plan can be viewed on the Rural Action website.

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