Iowa City residents that receive curbside services can place yard waste and food waste in the same container at the curb to be picked up and transported to the Iowa City Landfill's compost facility, where it is made into compost. Check out food waste reduction tips to learn how to minimize food waste.
Food and yard waste can be combined in the same container.
Curbside Customer Best Practices
- Do not overfill carts. City ordinance states the lids must be closed.
- Place carts at curb by 7 AM on your curbside day
- Keep at least 3-feet clear zone around each cart
- Face arrows on cart lids to street
- Return carts to your storage area at end of curbside day
- Do not paint/write on carts
- Do not remove carts from home
- Put carts at curb only when full
Yard waste such as grass, leaves, and garden residue can be bagged in any paper yard waste bag, placed in a personal 20-35 gallon upright container (weight limit of 50 pounds), or placed in an official City of Iowa City 95-gallon (weight limit of 250 pounds) or 25-gallon (weight limit of 50 pounds) cart. Open burning of yard waste and other refuse is prohibited in Iowa City at all times.
Food waste such as coffee grounds, egg shells, meat bones, fruit and vegetable peels, and pizza boxes can all be composted. View the Organics: Yard Waste and Food Waste handout for more information. Food waste can be placed in:
- an upright container, 20-35 gallons in size (weight limit of 50 pounds); or
- an official City of Iowa City organics cart:.95-gallon cart (weight limit of 250 pounds) and the 25-gallon cart (weight limit of 50 pounds)
Do not place food waste in paper yard waste bags. To reduce mess, you may place food waste in newspaper or certified-compostable bags (labeled ASTM D6400 or certified-compostable) before placing food waste in curbside containers.
Garlic Mustard is accepted at the Iowa City Landfill's Compost Facility. If you are a curbside customer, please place it in your yard waste bag or container to be picked up at the curb for composting. Johnson County residents can also drop Garlic Mustard and other yard waste at the Compost Facility at no cost.
We are able to accept Garlic Mustard in our facility because our compost reaches a high enough temperature. We do not recommend adding Garlic Mustard and other invasive species to a backyard compost pile as this does not get to a high enough temperature.
Pet waste, while organic, is not accepted in curbside composting or at the Iowa City Compost Facility. Please place this in the regular trash.
Woody Yard Waste
Curbside customers may place fallen tree limbs, branches, brush and woody yard waste at the curb for pick-up on their normal garbage day only if it meets the following specifications:
- Wood waste and brush must be four inches in diameter or less.
- Must be securely tied in bundles that are no bigger around than 18 inches and no more than 48 inches in length.
- Bundles must also weigh less than 50 pounds.
Any brush not meeting the specifications listed above will be left at the curb.
Curbside customers in Iowa City can receive either a 95-gallon or 25-gallon cart for organics (food waste and yard waste) curbside collection. Yard waste and food waste can be added to the same container for pickup.
Please sign up for a cart here.
Carts will be delivered based on availability and staff time. Waits will vary and delivery could take up to several months.
Smaller 25-gallon carts are available for curbside customers. Contact Resource Management at 319-356-5151 for more information.
Kitchen Food Scraps Container
Iowa City curbside customers that would like a 2-gallon kitchen food scraps container can pick one up at the City Hall Cashier office in Iowa City City Hall (410 E. Washington St.) during regular business hours, 8 a.m. to 5 p.m.
Important things to note:
- A full list of accepted food waste materials may be found in our Organics: Yard Waste and Food Waste handout.
- These containers are not to be put at the curb. This container is for kitchen collection only. Materials collected can be emptied into your organics curbside container.
- To help keep this container clean, use newspaper, or ASTM D6400 or U.S. Composting Council certified-compostable bags to contain the food scraps.
Businesses are encouraged to check out the EPA’s Food Recovery Challenge for information on food waste reduction and rescue.
Organics hauling options for businesses:
Did you know that over 25 percent of what goes into the Iowa City Landfill is food waste? That’s approximately 34,000 tons of food each year, just in Johnson County.
When food waste ends up in the landfill, it produces a harmful greenhouse gas called methane that is over 20 times stronger than carbon dioxide. This can impact local air quality and climate change. Composting is a better alternative to landfilling, but it is best not to waste food in the first place.
When we throw away food, we also waste all the water, energy, and natural resources used to produce, package, and transport food from farm to plate. In addition, wasted food means wasted money.
The following Food: Too Good To Waste strategies can help you reduce food waste:
- Get Smart: See How Much Food (And Money) You Are Throwing Away
- Smart Shopping: Buy What You Need
- Smart Storage: Keep Fruits and Vegetables Fresh
- Smart Prep: Prep Now, Eat Later
- Smart Saving: Eat What You Buy
For recipes, food storage and planning tips, and more, check out Save the Food:
Are you a restaurant wanting to reduce food waste? Check out the ReFed Restaurant Food Waste Action Guide.
Have food that could be donated?
Table to Table is a local non-profit organization that rescues edible food and delivers it to organizations in Iowa City that can use it. Learn more about the organization and how to volunteer by visiting, www.table2table.org.
Self-Hauling Organics to the Iowa City Landfill and Recycling Center
For information on self-hauling organics, yard waste and/or food waste, to the Iowa City Landfill and Recycling Center, visit our Landfill and Recycling Centers webpage.
- Resource Management: 319-356-5151
- Recycling Coordinator: 319-887-6110, firstname.lastname@example.org.
- Sign up for email service notices at www.icgov.org/subscribe.
- City of Iowa City Landfill and Recycling Facebook Page