Iowa City may be moving toward apartment recycling mandate

Photo by tulipepower; Flickr
Photo by tulipepower; Flickr
KC McGinnis | December 29, 2015

An ordinance that could come before the Iowa City City Council next year would guarantee a service Iowa City residents and University of Iowa students have been requesting for years: onsite recycling at larger apartment complexes.

While recycling receptacles are widely available in UI dormitories, single family homes and smaller apartment complexes, Iowa City residents are often disappointed to find much more limited options in larger apartments off campus. These apartments are currently only required to provide trash services, meaning tenants must either throw their recyclables in the trash or take them to one of Iowa City’s recycling facilities. In an interview with the Iowa City Press-Citizen, Iowa City recycling coordinator Jen Jordan said a recycling mandate ordinance similar to the existing rule requiring landlords to provide trash services to tenants could go before the City Council in 2016. That would cover 45% of Iowa City households.

The ordinance comes after a UI Student Government petition last year for recycling at off-campus apartments gained over 1,700 signatures. Iowa City also conducted a recycling pilot program in a handful of apartment complexes in 2012. Jordan said the estimated cost per unit for the changes would add up to $2.57 per unit.

Recycling not only puts fewer plastics and other materials into landfills, it also reduces emissions of methane, a greenhouse gas many times more powerful than carbon dioxide, from those landfills. Sending plastics and other recyclables to Energy from Waste (EfW) facilities prevent the equivalent of one ton of carbon dioxide from entering the atmosphere for every ton of waste recycled.

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