City council extends recycling services to all Iowa City residents

Changes to Iowa City code make curbside recycling services available to all residents of Iowa City. (Mike Mahaffle/flickr)
Jenna Ladd | October 20, 2016

Iowa City council voted unanimously on Tuesday to ramp up recycling efforts in the city.

The first consideration of the amendment to City Code Title 16, Article 3H passed  7-0. It requires recycling services to be available for all multi-family units; currently the city only services single-family households up to four units. Changes made to city code will also provide curbside food-waste collection services and prohibit residents from dumping computers and televisions into the municipal landfill.

City council member Rockne Cole is a long-time proponent of the measure. He said, “We’re looking at diverting over 1,700 tons of material from the landfill.”

University of Iowa and community environmental groups have been advocating for a city-wide recycling program for years. Jacob Simpson, UISG City Council Liaison, said that these changes benefit students who wish to continue recycling after moving off campus. He said, “At the university, we have the opportunity for students to recycle in the dorms and practice something that they’ve learned, and then a lot of the time, they have to go off campus, and they don’t have that ability,” Simpson added, “I think now that the city has taken this step to provide this in off-campus buildings, we cannot just see a benefit to Iowa City, but I think this is going to be something that benefits the state and beyond, as people become more accustomed to recycling.”

City director of Transportation Services Chris O’Brien said that all residential complexes built after January 1, 2017 must immediately comply with the new recycling policy. Landlords that own existing dwellings will be granted a grace period to get in compliance.

City council member Cole added, “It’s a real great victory for the University of Iowa, our community and most importantly, the environment.”

On the Radio: Students push for off-campus recycling

Nicolas Raymond / Flickr
Nicolas Raymond / Flickr
December 1, 2014

This week’s On the Radio segment looks at recent efforts at one Iowa university to increase recycling options for students living off campus. Listen to the audio below, or continue reading for a transcript.

Transcript: Off-campus recycling

Students at one Iowa university are trying to bring their campus’ culture of recycling to the rest of the city.

This is the Iowa Environmental Focus.

The University of Iowa Student Government is seeking to make recycling easier in area apartments used by students at the UI. While receptacles for recycling cardboard, aluminum and plastic are widely available in UI dormitories and facilities, students are often disappointed to find much more limited options when they move off campus.

The UISG Sustainability Committee is hoping to change that by developing a petition to be signed by students and other residents who wish to see better recycling options in their neighborhoods. These changes would add minimal costs to apartment complexes, while having the potential to drastically increase recycling in Iowa City. Reports show that almost half of Iowa City’s population lacks recycling options in living spaces.

For more information about recycling, visit

From the UI Center for Global and Regional Environmental Research, I’m Jerry Schnoor.