Study Shows Iowans Throwing Away Recyclables

DUBUQUE, Iowa (KCRG-TV9) -- A recent study says Iowans are throwing away things they could be recycling, potentially worth tens of millions of dollars.

According to the 2017 Iowa Statewide Waste Characterization Study, Iowans are throwing away tons of waste that could be recycled.

The study shows there are close to 500,000 tons of recyclable paper and containers that are potentially being thrown in the garbage.

The study suggests the material could be worth about over $60 million at market value.

At the Dubuque Metro Landfill, the study shows the most waste that goes to the landfill is organic materials like yard scraps and food.

The Dubuque's Public Works Department and the Dubuque Metropolitan Area Solid Waste Agency aren't necessarily staggered by the numbers when you put different factors into context.

"With organics when you're starting to talk about food waste again, you gotta put this in context a little bit with the Dubuque area," Agency Administrator for the DMASWA John Foster said. "Really the majority of the waste are gonna be from the institution, commercial sector, and the industrial sector, so we're talking about food, we have several food generators in the area, so that's part of why our food waste is up."

Despite the noticeable increase according to the study, the city is using the opportunity to remind Dubuque residents and businesses of a program some have been taking advantage of to help reduce their waste.

The city offers a website and an app to help people best determine what to do with their waste, called REThink Waste Dubuque.

Considering the largest category of waste comes from organic materials, the Public Works Department says it's as simple as a couple of clicks to determine what exactly can be done with food scraps to avoid immediately throwing it in the garbage can.

"Individuals can go in the waste wizard tool and they can type in different food materials," Anderson Sainci, Resource Management Coordinator Supervisor with Dubuque Public Works said. "And they'll tell you 'this is what you can do with your material' instead of throwing it away in your regular trash can and it goes to the landfill.

Sainci said residents and businesses can also utilize a monthly food scraps recycling program, that allows Dubuquers to have a separate container specifically for food scraps and paper to ensure they are disposed of properly.

 To use the REThink Waste Dubuque tool, you can click hereor you can download their app from the App Store or Google Play.

 To read more about the Food Scrap Recycling, click here.

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