The Solid Waste Division collects refuse, yard waste, recycling and bulky items from the curbside on a weekly basis. Services are provided to residential properties ranging from one to four units. In addition, the Solid Waste Division provides elderly and handicap carryout service to residents whom document need. 

Refuse collection

I just moved into my new home and there is no garbage can.

Please contact the Solid Waste Division at 319-356-5180. The majority of our residential accounts utilize the 65-gallon City-issued refuse cart for curbside collection. The City of Iowa City maintains ownership of all refuse carts distributed throughout the City. The cart must remain at the property to which it was delivered. 

Please note: There are a few areas throughout the City that are serviced by our white goods truck. Unfortunately, those areas will not be issued a City refuse cart due to the fact that the garbage cans must be manually lifted. For those few areas, residents may utilize up to two 35-gallon garbage containers in which they would need to purchase their own. 

Are there any guidelines for curbside refuse collection?

All refuse containers must be placed at the curb by 7 a.m. to guarantee pickup. 

The refuse cart will be emptied by an automated system. For proper disposal, customers need to follow a few important guidelines. Please not the items below: 

  • The lid is not shut. The lid must be completely closed for pickup. The cart may become damaged if the lid is ajar.
  • There is an excessive amount of garbage in the cart. Do not overfill the cart. Broken lids are the direct result of an overfilled cart. 
  • The garbage inside of the cart is not bagged. Loose materials increase the likelihood that items will become stuck in your cart. 
  • The cart is packed too tight with garbage. Garbage may become stuck at the bottom of the cart and not flow out when lifted by the automated arm of the truck. 
  • There is not enough clearance around the cart. Maintain a four foot clear zone around the cart (avoid mailboxes, recycle bins, etc.). 
  • The cart is facing the wrong direction. Make sure the arrows on the lid face the street. 

I have more garbage than what will fit into my cart. 

Any additional bags of garbage may be placed alongside your refuse cart. Additional bags of garbage can be no longer than 35 gallons in size and can weigh no more than 50 pounds. All additional bags left curbside must have a City of Iowa City blue refuse sticker affixed to them. City of Iowa City refuse stickers may be purchased for $2.50 at participating grocery stores and at the City Hall Cashier. 

My garbage was not collected today. What should I do?

Please contact the Solid Waste Division at 319-356-5151. 

Do not put the following items in your cart: 

  • hot ashes
  • construction debris
  • yard waste
  • hazardous waste
  • electronics
  • appliances

Recycling collection

Where can I get a City recycling bin?

Replacement bins can be picked up at the Cashier's Office in City Hall at 410 E. Washington Street during normal business hours (Monday through Friday, 8 a.m. to 5 p.m.). Residents who want to purchase additional bins from the City should see the City Hall Cashier. Cost is $12 per bin. 

Do I have to use a City recycling bin? 

No, but if you use a Rubbermaid or similar container, the City will not replace it if it gets broken or the lid blows away. 

Do I have to use a recycling sticker if I use a different bin?

No, you no longer need a recycling sticker on a container that you provide. 

Do I have to use plastic bags to sort my recycled items?

No, you no longer need to sort your recyclables in bags.  Please do not use plastic bags to separate recycling. 

How do I sort my bin?

Make two sort piles -- one for fiber and paper products (newspapers, magazine, mixed paper/office paper and chipboard, such as cereal boxes) and one for plastics (#1-5 and 7) and metal cans. Stack similar items together. If using one bin, put newspapers on one side, magazines on the other, next your mixed paper, and plastics on top, etc. If using two bins, sort and stack fiber and paper in one and plastics and cans in the other. Cardboard boxes should be broken down (2 ft. x 2 ft.) and placed under the bin. 

When do I put out my bin? 

The night before your recycling/trash day, or by 7 a.m. that day. After your recycling has been collected, please remember to take your bin back to the house or garage -- please do not leave it at the curb. 

Why can't I recycle glass or Styrofoam at the curb? 

Some items are not included in the curbside recycling program because of the limited space available on City recycling trucks, and the amount of revenue available from the sale of different types of recycled materials. Materials are evaluated every few years for their market value, as the revenue the City receives from the sale of recycled items helps keep rates low. We make adjustments as needed to maintain revenue and to save space for materials that have higher market value. The City actually has to pay to recycle glass, and it is hard to handle at the curb -- but residents can recycle glass at one of four local recycling drop-off sites. Styrofoam is not recyclable in the area at this time. 

Why is my recycling being thrown into a garbage truck? 

On rare occasions our division may have to utilize a garbage truck for curbside recycling collection. For example, if one of our recycling trucks has broken down, or it is a holiday make-up day, or if there are extreme weather conditions that could potentially put our employees at risk due to exposure. If you see your recycling being placed in what appears to be a garbage truck, please do not worry. The items will still be recycled. We are allowed to take a certain amount of co-mingled recycling to City Carton each year and from there the co-mingled recycling will be taken to their sorting facility. 

Yard waste collection

Does the City collect yard waste bags curbside? 

Yard waste such as grass, leaves and garden residue can be bagged in special Iowa City yard waste bags imprinted with the City logo. These bags, priced at $1.25 each, are available for purchase at participating Iowa City grocery, hardward and general merchandise stores, and from the City Hall Cashier (410 E. Washington Street). The $1.25 fee per bag pays for the expense of the pickup and composting service. 

Please note: Generic paper yard waste bags cannot be substituted for City-branded yard waste bags if you wish to have curbside pickup. 

Does the City offer an alternative to the yard waste bags?

The annual yard waste sticker is an alternative to the City of Iowa City yard waste bag and is to be placed on a refuse container dedicated for yard waste only. The cost for the annual sticker is $12.50. Stickers may only be purchased from the City Hall Cashier. If you need to use more than one container for yard waste, each container must have a sticker affixed. The 2017 sticker is valid until December 29. 

Container guidelines: 

  • The container should be no more than 35 gallons and no less than 20 gallons in size.
  • When filled, the container can weigh no more than 50 pounds. Protect your container from rain (and added weight) by keeping the lid on during inclement weather.
  • To prevent theft, put both your name and address on the container and the sticker. Be sure the surface is both clean and dry before applying the sticker. Put the sticker on the body of the container, not the lid. The City cannot be responsible for lost or stolen yard waste stickers or containers. 


  • A separate truck picks up yard waste on your regular garbage day. Yard waste must be at the curb by 7 a.m. to guarantee pickup. Place your yard waste container a few feet away from your refuse container(s) at the curbside. Please make sure that the yard waste sticker is facing the street and visible to our refuse crews as they pass by. 
  • If you occasionally have more yard waste than what your container will hold, you may either store the surplus yard waste until the following week's collection or you may purchase City of Iowa City yard waste bags. 

Does the City collect branches curbside? 

Curbside pickup for woody yard waste (brush and tree limbs) is available on your regular garbage pickup day at no extra charge. Tree limbs and wood waste less than four inches in diameter should be securely tied in bundles no larger than 18 inches in diameter and no longer than 48 inches in length. 

Why is my yard waste being thrown into a garbage truck? 

The Solid Waste Division utilizes a garbage (packer) truck for curbside yard waste collection. Please be assured, your yard waste will be taken to the landfill for composting and/or mulching. 

Please note: 

Our yearly yard waste suspension period will occur the first full week in February and will run for a five-week period. During this period, yard waste will still be collected on a call-in basis. 

Bulk item collection

Does the City offer any services for picking up large items curbside? 

Please contact the Solid Waste Division (319-356-5151), two days in advance of your regular pickup day to schedule a large item pickup. Fees for the collection of these items will be added onto you monthly utility bill. 

  • Large bulky items: Items that cannot be broken down to fit into your refuse cart. For example: chairs, couches, mattresses, dressers, etc. Fee: $12.50 for first item; $6 for each additional item (per pickup). 
  • Electronics: Curbside pickup is available for electronic waste. Electronic waste (such as printers, CPUs, VCRs) that do not have a CRT screen/monitor are charged the same as bulky waste. CRT screens 18 inches or smaller are $16.50 for the first and $10 for each additional monitor. TVs (console, flat screen, etc.) over 18 inches are $21.50 for the first and $15 for each additional. 
  • Appliances: refrigerators, stoves, dishwashers, air conditioners, microwave ovens, water heaters, etc. Fee: $20 per appliance. 
  • Tires: $3.75 per tire not on rim; $7.50 per tire on rim.

All bulk items, electronics and appliances will be picked up by our white goods truck on your regular collection day. Please have all large items at the curb by 7 a.m. For your convenience, you may place the items out the night before your pickup day. 

Please note: 

Additional fees could be charged to your account if items are abandoned at the curb or if an item has not been scheduled for collection.