All Iowa City apartment buildings will start offering recycling this year

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Iowa City dumpster — photo by Paul Roeder

Apartment life in Iowa City will get a little greener in 2018, because every building with more than four rental units have to offer a recycling option to tenants before the end of the year. The Iowa City Council passed a regulation in 2016 mandating landlords provide recycling in order to renew their rental permits — something that must be done every two years.

“By the end of 2018, everybody will be covered,” Iowa City Senior Housing Inspector Stan Laverman told Little Village.

“It’s already required of newer developments,” Laverman explained. “Realizing it was a large change, we’ve been slowly implementing the requirement in older, multifamily buildings. So, we kind of rolled it out slowly, until January of this year, when it became mandatory in order to renew your permit.”

Because some of the city’s smaller and older properties have very limited space, having extra trash facilities for recycling on site may be difficult.

“There are going to be a few properties that are going to have a hard time coming into compliance and we have provisions within the code to make some exceptions,” Laverman said.

One of the solutions the city is promoting is having rental properties located near each other share recycling dumpsters.

“That will require some people to walk a few extra steps to recycle,” Laverman said, “but we’ve heard from people that they want these services, and we believe they do,”

Apartments won’t be required to offer separate cardboard recycling as part of the new regulations. On Jan. 2, the Iowa City Landfill began charging garbage haulers twice the standard tipping fee for loads inspectors determine contain corrugated cardboard, as part of Iowa City’s effort to reduce the amount of cardboard in the landfill. Cardboard buried in a landfill gives off methane, a powerful greenhouse gas, as it decays, and in 2017, it was estimated that the landfill was receiving approximately 4,000 tons of cardboard over the course of a year.

Since the landfill cardboard ban has gone into effect, residents who have curbside trash pickup won’t have their garbage collected if the hauler sees cardboard in the garbage. (There is an exception for food containers, such as pizza boxes, because cardboard with food stains cannot be recycled, although it can be disposed of through the city’s composting program.) Cardboard pieces, no larger to 2 ft. by 2 ft. may be placed either in or under recycling bins.

Apartment residents wanting to recycle cardboard can find information on drop-off locations on the Iowa City Department of Public Works recycling page.

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