Columbus recycling


Columbus, OH (pop. 809,798), rolled out its citywide curbside recycling program in mid-2012. As the 15th largest city in the U.S., it seems almost incomprehensible that the capital of the Buckeye State would take so long to make the curbside plunge. But, that isn’t to say that Columbus hasn’t been preparing this whole time. According to Waste & Recycling News, the city hosted various pilot programs across town for 20 years, but various factors, including budgetary concerns, held up citywide implementation. In its first year, the program has brought in an average of 2,500 tons of recyclables per month. The W&RN article claims a recent one-week snapshot showed a 74% participation rate — an extremely high rate for any U.S. city, especially for a new program. Now, Columbus sets the precedent for future curbside recycling program tweaks across Ohio cities. Columbus residents are eager to recycle after watching their suburban counterparts do it for so many years. The city wasted no time with small-capacity bins at the program’s outset, instead opting for full-sized, single-stream, 64-gallon roll carts to get the job done for its 227,000+ single-family homes and small apartment buildings.

Materials recycled

Paper Newspaper, magazines, catalogs, junk mail, computer paper, paperboard, phonebooks, juice boxes, paper-based food and drink cartons and flattened corrugated cardboard (including clean pizza boxes) are accepted. Plastics All plastic bottles and jugs, including caps and lids, are accepted. No Styrofoam, plastic bags or plastic tubs accepted. Metals Aluminum cans, steel cans and metal caps and lids are accepted. All items must be clean. Glass Empty, clean glass bottles and jars are accepted.


Columbus residents take recyclables to the curb every other week, on the same weekday as yard waste (i.e., if yard waste is collected on the first Monday of the month, recycling will be collected the second Monday, and so on). Carts must be at least 3 feet from any other obstructions and within a foot of the curb. Carts should be placed curbside by 6 a.m. on the day of pick-up and must be returned to property within 24 hours of pick-up. A collection day lookup is available online.

Other programs

Before the curbside recycling program debuted in 2012, Columbus residents relied on a vast network — 200+ locations — of drop-off recycling spots made available from a partnership between the City of Columbus and the Solid Waste Authority of Central Ohio. The drop-off locations remain in operation for Columbus residents, particularly those living in multifamily dwellings. A map of drop-off locations is available online. SWACO also runs the local household hazardous waste facility (located at 645 E. 8th Ave.), which provides free HHW drop-off for residents of Franklin County (which includes the city of Columbus and many of its neighboring suburbs). Accepted items include oil-based paint, polishes, motor oil, kerosene, gasoline, gasoline mixed with oil, spray paint, lighter fluid, propane cylinders and tanks, oxygen tanks, turpentine, thinners, cyanides, pool chemicals, acids and caustics, bleach, household cleaners, drain cleaners, paint strippers, fluorescent light bulbs, lawn chemicals, fertilizers, fire extinguishers, rat poison, insecticides, antifreeze, household batteries, vehicle batteries, computer batteries/other batteries, tightly sealed cooking fats and oils, smoke detectors and helium tanks. The facility is open to the public Wednesdays, from noon to 6 p.m.; Thursdays, from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.; and Fridays, from noon to 6 p.m. Yard waste collection is another curbside program that Columbus residents enjoy. This biweekly collection program takes grass clippings, leaves, branches, twigs and shrubbery. Yard waste can be placed in biodegradable paper bags or rigid containers clearly marked “Yard Waste.”

More information

Visit the City of Columbus Department of Public Service website for more recycling program info.