New carts for compostable materials available in Iowa City

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New carts for organic waste in Iowa City. — photo courtesy of the City of Iowa City

Iowa City is rolling out new organic waste carts for people who want to participate in the city’s curbside composting program. The new carts come in two sizes: 95 gallons and 25 gallons.

“We’re recommending the 95-gallon cart to households that are producing a large amount yard waste on a regular basis,” said Iowa City Recycling Coordinator Jane Wilch. She added that the 95-gallon cart has approximately the same size footprint as the current 65-gallon trash cart, it just has a more bulbous top to accommodate the extra 30 gallons.

“The 25-gallon carts are for households that don’t produce a lot of yard waste, but want to participate in the food scraps diversion program,” Wilch said. “It’s up to a household to decide what size cart they want, but they can only have one cart.”

The new carts will be used to collect organic materials for the city’s composting facility. They can be used for yard waste — such as branches, lawn clippings and leaves — and food waste including pizza boxes, paper napkins, uncoated paper plates and cups, as well as any items that are certified as compostable.

The collected material is taken to the commercial composting facility at the Iowa City Landfill and Recycling Center.

“We can take items that are a little bit harder to break down and don’t go into most backyard compost piles, like meat bones and egg shells, because we get our compost pile to a high enough temperature that everything like that breaks down just fine,” Wilch explained.

“From start to finish, it’s about a year from when the product comes into the Iowa City Landfill to the final black soil compost is ready,” she said.

The final product is sold to both companies and residents. Contractors buy it by the truckload for $20 a ton. People with more modest compost needs can get it by the bucketful at the East Side Recycling Center. According to Wilch, a sizable bucketload costs “a few dollars.”

Iowa City residents who already receive curbside services can order one of the new organics carts by calling the city’s Department of Public Works at 319-356-5151. There is no fee for the carts or the collection of the organic waste. The cart and collection are both covered by a $2 fee included in monthly utility bills.

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