The City of Iowa City rolled out new recycling carts in December of 2018, and since then, the community has seen promising increases in recycling.

Last month, recycling tonnage increased by over 30% more material than this same time last year. The new carts have spurred excitement, and possibly even some new participants, with the larger containers on wheels making it easier to recycle more material.

The increased diversion into recycling programs is in line with Iowa City’s waste reduction goals. City staff are excited by the increases, but continue to emphasize that quality is more important than quantity.

“It is more important than ever before to make sure we are recycling clean and correctly," says Jane Wilch, Recycling Coordinator. "Having too much of the wrong materials in a load of recycling can compromise the entire load, and result in materials being landfilled instead. We encourage residents to check out the Curbside Recycling Guide for accepted materials or give us a call if they have questions."

Despite recent news headlines about recycling programs going away in other US cities, Iowa City prioritizes recycling and continues to have viable markets for recycling materials as long as materials are clean. The City asks residents to empty and rinse their containers and only recycle accepted items. Carts with contamination will be tagged and left.

For the full list of accepted materials, visit

Concerned about recycling? Here's what you can do:

  • Avoid buying items that are not recyclable, including its packaging. Buy items with as much recycled content as you can find to support markets.
  • Empty/rinse bottles and containers to reduce contamination.
  • Support the Bottle Bill.
  • Be willing to sort if/when necessary.

City of Iowa City curbside recycling is available to residents living in single-family homes up to 4-plex apartment buildings. When your recycling cart is full, place at the curb by 7 a.m. on your regular collection day, leaving several feet between carts to allow for the truck's mechanical arm to empty the bin. For more tips on how to use curbside service, watch this video.

A $106,000 grant from The Recycling Partnership assisted the City with the purchase and delivery of carts to the 16,000 Iowa City households that receive curbside services, in addition to a robust, customized public education campaign. The Recycling Partnership is a national nonprofit that leverages corporate partner funding to transform recycling for good in cities and towns all across America. The grant is supported in part by the All In On Recycling challenge in conjunction with the PepsiCo Foundation.

For more information, visit To receive curbside service notices, sign-up at

For question about carts, contact Patricia Fossum, Assistant Superintendent-Refuse, at or 319-356-5466. For questions about recycling, contact Jane Wilch, Recycling Coordinator, at or 319-887-6110.

Date of publication

Monday, April 15, 2019