Many small Iowa communities no longer can afford to maintain their local dumps when faced with increasing regulation and permitting fees by the EPA and Iowa Department of Natural Resources. That has forced new ways of thinking about waste management.
Iowa’s Department of Natural Resources sampled trash from 10 landfills and five transfer stations across Iowa for a study published in December 2017, looking to answer the question, “What are Iowans landfilling?” Tom Anderson, of the Iowa DNR’s Land Quality Bureau and the study’s project manager, has an answer to that question.
Farm belt state struggles in shift to recycling
More than half of what Iowans dump into landfills could have been recycled or composted. In some areas, that amount is as high as 75 percent, landfill operators said. An IowaWatch investigation revealed that the gap between tons dumped into the ground and tons recycled at Iowa’s top five waste agencies is widening. And unless something changes, it’s set to stay that way because of a lack of available recycling programs, the way recycling and landfill programs are funded by the state, and poor record keeping. Reo Menning, public affairs director with the Metro Waste Authority located near Mitchellville, explains bluntly: “If recycling doesn’t happen, landfills will fill up faster, and the cost for garbage will go up.”
Colors denote intensity of tonnage in fiscal year 2012.