116 3rd St SE
Cedar Rapids, Iowa 52401
IOWA CITY - Iowa City officials expect to double the amount of compost available for gardening through a curbside food waste program launched today.
Iowa City residents now may put food waste, including meat and eggs, as well as uncoated paper products like pizza boxes and paper plates into yard waste bins that include a special sticker for curbside pickup. The program is expected to divert some of the 18,000 tons of food waste going to the city's landfill each year, said Jennifer Jordan, Iowa City's recycling coordinator.
'Once in the landfill, it breaks down into gases that include a greenhouse gas, methane,” Jordan said.
Residents who want to compost food waste along with yard waste must have a 35-gallon can with a tightfitting lid and a yard waste sticker, available for $12.50 at City Hall and area retailers. The cans should be no heavier than 50 pounds because city workers will be dumping the cans, rather than using an automated arm from the truck.
The city is researching other bin sizes as well as future automation, Jordan said.
Iowa City has been composting food waste since 2007, getting about 600 tons a year from the University of Iowa dining centers and hospital, as well as Regina Catholic Student Center, New Pioneer Food Co-op and Bluebird Diner, Jordan said. The curbside program is expected to add another 500 to 1,000 tons per year.
The city sells the compost for $20 a ton to area landscapers, builders and homeowners.
City officials have wanted to expand food waste composting for several years. During a 2014 pilot study, 50 Iowa City families diverted 1,000 pounds of garbage over six weeks by putting food waste into cans for curbside pickup.
City staff presented the citywide curbside compost proposal to the City Council in June, but changes to City Code were needed before final approval last fall, Jordan said.
Jordan also wants to encourage residents to reduce their food waste altogether by shopping smarter and using leftovers.
'It's a huge waste of resources if we're throwing 40 percent of our food away,” Jordan said, adding families throw away between $28 and $43 of food each month. 'We want to get to a point where we're just composting rinds, peels and non-edible stuff.”
Other Corridor cities that do curbside food waste pickup include Cedar Rapids, North Liberty and University Heights, Jordan said.
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