SCISWA was one of several agencies to participate in the DNR’s 2011 statewide waste characterization. Waste sorting occurred at SCISWA facilities the week of May 9th-13th, with one day at the Poweshiek Transfer Station and four at the landfill.

The DNR posted the final 2011 Iowa Statewide Waste Characterization Study on its website.

Table ES-1 is copied from the DNR study and presents the key finding—the five most prevalent materials being buried—from the 2011 report. MSW stands for municipal solid waste; ICI is industrial, commercial, and institutional waste. The statewide MSW column refers to the combination of residential and ICI waste at the nine facilities included in the study.

 

 

Rank

Statewide MSW

Residential MSW

ICI MSW

1

Food Waste–13.3%

Food Waste–13.6%

OCC & Kraft Paper–13.2%

2

OCC and Kraft Paper–9.0%

Yard Waste–7.8%

Food Waste–13.1%

3

Other Film Plastic–6.6%

Textiles & Leather–5.9%

Other Plastic Products–8.0%

4

Compostable Paper–6.1%

Other Film Plastic–5.8%

Untreated Wood–7.9%

5

Untreated Wood–5.4 %

Other Plastic Products–5.2%

Other Film Plastic–7.3%

Total

40.4%

38.3%

49.5%

 

OCC & Kraft Paper does not make the top five for residential MSW, as it is present in the statewide residential waste stream at a level of about 3.8%. Yard waste, which does make the residential top five, has been banned from landfill disposal since 1991. The study’s authors observed that the timing of the sorting (late spring) may have been a factor in that result.

Certain other observations and conclusions from the study are listed here, as they may help shape DNR policy and reactions to the data:

  • The quantity of newsprint overall, including that landfilled, has been affected by “lightweighting”—smaller page sizes, lighter-weight paper, and reduced numbers of advertisements and subscriptions—as well as by recycling efforts.
  • The OCC & Kraft Paper and Mixed Paper categories among commercial/industrial generators appear to offer opportunity for additional recovery.
  • About 29% of the overall waste stream consists of food waste, yard waste, and compostable papers, suggesting that organics diversion programs are the “next big opportunity” for reducing landfilled wastes. However, the report also noted some of the obstacles posed by source separation and separate collection of these organic waste streams.
  • Construction and demolition debris also appears to offer potential for diversion but is the least thoroughly understood waste stream segment, as construction and demolition debris has never been individually sorted in the state’s waste characterization studies.

SCISWA’s top six (because a few had multiple categories at the same level) in each category are presented in below.

 

Rank

SCISWA MSW

Residential MSW

ICI MSW

1

Food waste–12.5%

Food Waste–14.6%

OCC & Kraft Paper–13.9%

2

OCC and Kraft Paper–9.4%

Textiles & Leather–8.8%

Food Waste–10.5%

3

Other Plastic Products–7.0%

Other Plastic Products–7.0%

Untreated Wood–9.8%

4

Untreated Wood–6.1%

Yard Waste–5.6%

Other Film Plastic–7.2%

5

Textiles & Leather–5.4%

Compostable Paper–4.9%

Other Plastic Products–7.0%

 

Other Film Plastic–5.4%

Treated Wood–4.9%

Non-Recyclable Paper–5.5%

Total

45.8%

45.8%

53.9%