COLUMBUS, Ohio (WCMH) – What happens to all of that Thanksgiving waste once the dinner table is clear?

The Solid Waste Authority of Central Ohio said everything you buy for the big meal has to eventually be disposed of.

SWACO said this time of year, their landfills see more waste than any other time of year, but there are steps that can be taken to change that.

The Ohio Environmental Protection Agency estimates that the amount of waste created increases between Thanksgiving and New Year by as much as 25 percent.

Hannah Greer-Brown, communications manager with SWACO, said the holidays only make those existing numbers even higher.

“Food waste accounts for the largest portion of the waste stream and we are seeing about a million pounds of it arrive at the landfill every single day,” Greer-Brown said.

It’s a combination of food, packaging, and other purchases this time of year that leads to the increase, but according to SWACO, not everything that comes into your home has to go directly to the landfills.

Experts said steps can be taken before you even prepare the food to help nip potential problems in the bud.

  • Have a list handy and stick to it, avoiding impulse buying.
  • Allow guests to take a to-go plate, which reduces how much food is sitting in your fridge
  • Freeze any items that you could use later down the road
  • Compost food scraps like onion peels and veggie tops.

And what about all of the packaging, jars, and bottles? Greer-Brown suggests encouraging guests to recycle.

“Make sure to put out your recycling container somewhere visible so they know where to put their recyclables and consider putting some signage up so they know what goes in that blue bin,” she said.

And what about that cooking oil, maybe the oil from the turkey fryer? That can be recycled as well. SWACO accepts that used food grease, only asking that it be put in a tightly sealed container and brought to the facility on 8th Avenue.