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Iowa Recycling and Waste Disposal Information to Know

The State’s goal of diverting 50% of waste by 2000 fell short

The state mandated that all Iowa landfills achieve a 25% waste diversion rate by 1988 and a 50% diversion rate by 2000, but unfortunately very few landfills were ever able to achieve this 50% goal at all let alone by 2000.

Waste diversion rates in the State peaked in 2000 at about 40%, but have since fallen to around 35%. This is on par with the national average, but the trend has been that of sliding down instead of up between 2000 and 2013.

Why should Iowans care about the waste diversion and recycling rate?

After all, many residents of Iowa have limited access to curbside recycling, making it much more expensive to truck their own recyclables to area recycling facilities and drop-off locations.

This is true, but in the long term recycling offers a major economic boost that can save the residents of Iowa money in the long run. Here’s how:

  • Every ton of waste landfilled brings one job to the community while the same amount of waste recycled brings about 10 jobs.
  • Landfills that take on too much waste pay tonnage fees to the State, which can drive up the cost of trash collection statewide.
  • As landfills reach capacity, waste must be trucked to other states (already being done in Iowa) at a considerable cost.
  • Environmental issues, including greenhouse gas emissions and pollution, are an increasing problem that costs the State a substantial amount of money.

If you live in a rural area or anywhere else curbside recycling is not provided by the City, consider hiring a private hauler to pick-up recyclables.

 You can also talk to your local public works or solid waste authority to see if curbside recycling service can be brought to your area.

Where to dispose of special wastes

You can’t throw certain wastes in with the general waste stream. This includes e-waste, paints, sharps, propane tanks, aerosol cans, batteries and other materials.

The Iowa Department of Natural Resources regulates the disposal of hazardous materials. You can access the Iowa DNR website for disposal information.

Composting is one way to recycle at home, and it saves you money

About a quarter of the waste landfilled in the U.S. is compostable. This mainly includes yard debris, food waste and some paper products. Composting at home or place of business is great for the environment and can actually save you money in two ways:

  • You’re making free 100% organic fertilizer for your garden, flower beds, indoor plantings, or to add to your top soil.
  • Composting can reduce the amount of waste you generate, which may allow you to downsize your waste container needs and save a few bucks on your bill.

It’s easy to compost at home, and no, it doesn’t smell like rotting garbage if you do it right. It’s a matter of mixing “brown” materials like twigs, dead leaves and clean paper with “green” materials like coffee grounds/filters, fruit/veggie scraps, nut shells and egg shells (no whole eggs).

Mix in a higher ratio of brown materials to avoid a stinky batch of compost. Mix weekly and keep moist with water. That’s all it takes to start reaping the benefits of compost.

***Learn more about composting here and here.