No more plastic clamshells, and other changes to Iowa City’s recycling program

Image courtesy of Iowa City Department of Resource Management.

Iowa City’s recycling program can no longer digest all those plastic clamshell containers that so many takeout meals come in, the city’s Department of Resource Management announced on Thursday.

“The pandemic has caused a significant increase in the use of clamshells by consumers, which negatively impacts the quality of materials processed by plastic recycling companies,” the department said in a statement. “Pre-pandemic quantities of clamshell plastics were processable because they were a low percentage of the overall plastic mix with no significant impact on the recycled plastic purity.”

Always looking for ways to reduce waste, the department suggests a seasonal way to reuse your plastic clamshell: “reuse them for holiday cookie deliveries or to store meal leftovers.”

Styrofoam products, whether shaped like a clamshell or not, are not accepted in the city’s recycling program.

Paper and fiber clamshells are still welcome in your recycling bin, provided they are clean. Ones that still have the marks or remains of whatever you were eating can be put into the composting.

Although the food containers have become a problem, the plastic you’re drinking from can go in the recycling. Plastic bottles and jugs “associated with food and beverages” can be placed in curbside recycling bins or deposited at the city’s recycling drop-off locations. Plastic bags, film and wraps, however, are not accepted by the recycling program.

The clamshell ban wasn’t the only change to the recycling program announced on Thursday.

Alkaline batteries can now be recycled, but not through the curbside collection program. The batteries should be dropped off at the Hazardous Material Collection Facility at the Iowa City Landfill and Recycling Center (3900 Hebl Ave SW) or Iowa City Fire Station #2 West (301 Emerald St).

Another new service may cause some citizens of the City of Literature to wince, but hardback books can now be recycled. The books can be deposited in a bin located in the electronics recycling bay of the Iowa City Landfill and Recycling bin.

The recycling program will also be accepting burnt-out and other unwanted holiday lights through Jan. 10. Your tangled, or untangled, strings of holiday cheer gone dark can be dropped off at the following locations:

• East Side Recycling Center via ReStore Donations (2401 Scott Blvd. SE, Iowa City) during ReStores open hours: 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Wednesday through Saturday.

• Iowa City Landfill and Recycling Center (3900 Hebl Ave. SW, Iowa City)

• Coralville Hy-Vee #1 (1914 8th St.)

• Stuff, Etc. (2818 Commerce Dr., Coralville)

• Coralville City Hall (1512 7th St.)

• Coralville Recreation Center (1506 8th St.)