APPROACH AND METHODOLOGY
Focusing on a particular geography and its communities in a single solid waste district in Ohio, in an effort to demonstrate an approach that could be applied in other districts in the region, and by applying the Ford Foundation's Wealth Creation Initiative approach, Rural Action seeks to guide the creation of a system that will increase opportunities for local wealth creation through new business development and community control. The Wealth Creation Initiative outlines an approach grounded in seven forms of capital that are critical for rural vitality and that will guide the overall efforts of Rural Action and its partner organizations. These forms of capital include: human (skills and training), social (trust and norms), intellectual (creativity and knowledge), built (functioning infrastructure), financial (investable assets), political (self-determination and influence), and natural (the ecological systems, or biosphere, all depend on in any given place as well as globally). Additionally, also adapted from the Wealth Creation Initiative approach, Rural Action will employ a value chain development approach, connecting with businesses, distributors, institutions, and others throughout the waste stream's supply chain to capture more business within the district and find opportunities for local and regional entrepreneurs.
Specific actions will include research and analysis, policy formation and advocacy, infrastructure development, business clustering and support, and participatory engagement and community organizing.
IMPLEMENTATION, TIMELINE, AND DELIVERABLES
Research and Analysis
- A comprehensive Zero Waste assessment of the current waste management situation in the district, along with recommended actions, will be completed by Rural Action and Ohio University and will help guide local decision making and policy. (September 2011 - January 2012)
- As part of the Zero Waste assessment, an analysis of specific materials entering the waste stream - wood, glass, coal fly ash, paper, textiles and others - will be completed to determine business potential. (January 2012 - May 2012)
- -A more regional overview of waste and recycling conditions in Central Appalachian will be completed to assess whether the waste and recycling sector holds opportunities for other parts of the region, both in terms of policy and wealth creation. (June 2012 - September 2012)
-Policies identified through the Zero Waste Initiative's first year of research and analysis will be introduced and advocated, including a request that the district invest in business and financial modeling, analysis of a new materials recovery facility, and options to increase collection and processing of recyclable materials. (September 2011 - February 2012)
- Implementation of any adopted policies by the district will be supported, tracked, and monitored by Rural Action and its partners through attendance at County Commissioner and Public Policy Committee meetings of the district. (February 2012 - September 2012)
- Nine new roll off containers for recycling will be placed in rural communities throughout the District based on numerous factors including community interest and support, ease of access, distance, and visibility. Ten residents asked to volunteer as site monitors and assistants in the first year. (September 2011 - December 2011)
- Financial and business modeling for a new materials recovery facility for the District is completed and provided to the County Commissioners, Public Policy Committee of the District, and residents. (November 2011 - April 2012)
Business Clustering and Support:
- 12 businesses will be brought together as a network to identify their business needs including new public or private infrastructure (such as the materials recovery facility) that will help their businesses grow. These businesses were identified in year 1 of the project's research and analysis phase. (November 2011 - September 2012)
- By September 2012, opportunities with recycled and waste materials that have been identified will be shared with local and regional waste entrepreneurs networked through this project.
Participatory Engagement and Community Organizing
- A two-person AmeriCorps team will map reclaimed illegal waste dumps in communities along watersheds that are already undergoing mine drainage restoration through local watershed groups. This information will inform policy development. (September 2011 - December 2011)
- Through community dialogue activities, residents in these very small watershed communities will identify opportunities for reducing waste, either through a business idea or through the placement of new, affordable infrastructure for waste management. (January 2012 - April 2012)
-The completed Zero Waste assessment report (the overview of the district's waste conditions and set of recommended solutions completed by Rural Action and Ohio University) will be discussed at 8 community meetings where the ideas and interests of rural residents will be incorporated into the final document.(January 2012 - March 2012)
- The Zero Waste assessment will be given to the County Commissioners and Public Policy Committee to better understand the interests and needs of local communities around Zero Waste solutions that are aggressive and creative. (April 2012)
The Athens-Hocking Solid Waste District, covering the rural south eastern Ohio counties of Athens and Hocking and serving a combined population of 100,000, is a microcosm of solid waste districts throughout central Appalachia where open mine pits provide convenient places to dump waste and weak public infrastructure results in illegal dumping. In addition to the challenge of managing local waste, the Athens-Hocking Solid Waste District takes the waste of the urban regions that surround it. According to the Congressional Research Service, Ohio ranked fourth in 2003 among top importing states in the US and in recent years, the state's imports have totaled more than three million tons per year with about 50% of Ohio's waste imports originating in New York and New Jersey.
The current waste management system used within the Athens-Hocking Solid Waste District adds little value to the rural communities it serves. The current fee structure accepts waste at a cost too low to support reinvestment in and improvement of the waste system resulting in lost opportunities for local economic development and job creation. An example of one such lost opportunity is that of the re-processing of recyclable materials. Currently, recycling commodities are exported to other communities along with the opportunity of jobs in this value-add industry. In the end, communities in Athens and Hocking counties miss multiple opportunities to control this basic system that impacts the region's air, water, health, and economy.
Spurred by recent opportunities to influence the Athens Hocking Solid Waste District's new five-year plan through public comments and community outreach, Rural Action and its partners, Ohio University's Voinovich School for Leadership and Public Affairs and the Sugarbush Foundation, are attempting to influence the use of public funds and the future of the district's waste management and recycling systems. However, Rural Action is also building partnerships and engaging communities to identify and construct a waste and recycling value chain that keeps the wealth of waste local. This second approach includes a range of activities not one under the district, from illegal dumpsite clean-up with AmeriCorps members, an assessment of the district's waste management and possible solutions (called the Zero Waste assessment), to business growth (technical assistance, finance, and access to supply or to markets) support for businesses already working in the waste sectors and with recycled materials.
SEEKING: Financial Resources, Implementing Partners, Best Practice Information, Media/Marketing Opportunities
This project will require more operating support, investment capital, and technical expertise on materials utilization. Rural Action would like to talk with innovative companies that have identified technologies that may be of use and co-brand.
OFFERING: Implementing Partners, Best Practice Information, Media/Marketing Opportunities
Rural Action would like to spread the word on other Rethinking Waste Initiatives and to see how new partnerships could form to solve this problem. Rural Action wants to work with others who recognize the value of rural America.
AOZWI is seeking investment in the initiative (mainly equity), innovative technology for recycling and waste management, and business connections that bring value to the region and its people.