IOWA CITY — Holiday weekends can be heavy on food waste with watermelon rinds, corncobs and meat bones left after picnics and family reunions.
Never fear. Iowa City has two new food compost bins for curbside pickup.
The city is distributing new 95-gallon compost bins and will give out 25-gallon bins at events starting in June, said Jane Wilch, Iowa City recycling coordinator. The bins are free for Iowa City residents, and pickup is included in a new $2 charge on monthly utility bills.
“If they just want to do food scraps, we recommend the 25-gallon bin,” Wilch said. “But if they want to do yard waste too, we recommend the 95-gallon size.”
The new black-and-gold bins have attached lids, wheels and bars that allow them to be hoisted and tipped mechanically into trucks.
Iowa City started curbside pickup of food waste in March 2017 with plans to double the amount of compost available for gardening. City officials don’t yet know whether they’ve met that goal, but there’s been an increase in compost because of the new program, Wilch said. The city also has seen a bump in recycling.
But it hasn’t translated into reduced landfill waste, she said.
“We’ve seen a 10 percent increase in landfilling,” Wilch said. “We’re trying to figure out whether that is consumption or what is causing that.”
About one-quarter of what goes into the Iowa City Landfill is food waste, which produces methane, a potent greenhouse gas.
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While composting is better than landfilling, the city encourages residents to buy only the food they plan to eat, store foods properly to extend freshness and donate surplus food to groups like Table to Table.
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, city officials reported in March 2017. The curbside program was expected to add 500 to 1,000 tons per year.
The city sells the compost for $20 a ton to area landscapers, builders and homeowners.
To get a new 95-gallon compost bin, Iowa City residents may call the city at (319) 356-5151 or email Wilch at Jane-Wilch@iowa-city.org. The 25-gallon bins will be available at events starting in early June. For more information, go to the city’s website at https://www.icgov.org/foodwaste.
Iowa City also has a new 65-gallon recycling bin officials will start distributing midsummer.
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CAN I COMPOST THIS?
YES: Coffee grounds, egg shells, meat scraps or bones, fruit and vegetable peels, tea bags, spoiled foods, small quantities of grease and fat, uncoated paper products, such as food napkins, pizza boxes and paper plates
NO: Plastic, styrofoam, metal, glass, waxed or coated paper, cigarette ashes or butts, pet waste and litter, toilet or facial tissue
Source: Iowa City compost guide