The Black Hawk County Solid Waste Management Commission encourages schools, organizations, restaurants, hospitals, and businesses within the landfill’s service area to help reduce the amount of materials entering the Black Hawk County Sanitary Landfill. One great way to help reduce waste from businesses is through food waste reduction!
According to the Iowa Department of Natural Resources’ most recent Waste Characterization Study (2017), food waste comprises 20% of the total materials (by weight) going into Iowa landfills. The Iowa Waste Reduction Center at the University of Northern Iowa has researched the estimated tonnage of food waste generated throughout Iowa. The IWRC’s database is searchable by city, county, and Planning Area.
In Black Hawk County alone, over 8,800 tons of food waste are generated per year by schools, hospitals, restaurants, and other food waste generators. For more information about food waste in landfills, visit the Waste Trac Education Team’s YouTube Channel.
The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency has created a “Food Recovery Hierarchy” to help businesses and organizations prevent and divert wasted food. This hierarchy suggests different food waste management strategies. The top levels provide the most benefits for people, our economy, and the environment.
Priority is given to feeding people… not landfills!
Local Options for Food Recovery
Shrink your business or organization’s food waste by working with a recovery outlet to:
Feed people through donating edible food:
- Avoid believing certain myths about about donating food or about food waste in landfills.
- The Bill Emerson Good Samaritan Food Donation Act protects good faith donors of food from liability when donating to food banks, panties, and shelters.
- Donate food to locations such as the Northeast Iowa Food Bank in Waterloo.
Feed the soil through composting:
- Composting inedible food waste is another way to help feed people! Composting breaks down old food and other organic matter. These materials transform into plant fertilizers to help grow more food.
- Several food waste composting companies have routes locally:
- A variety of companies also sell compostable and biodegradable tableware that may be collected by these companies.
- Business Composting Resources:
- Guide to Workplace Composting from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency
- Printable recycling and composting signs for your office.
- Participate in the “Food Recovery Challenge”– through the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.
- Watch videos about the commercial composting process on the Waste Trac Education Team’s YouTube Channel.
Generate electricity through biodigestion:
- Inedible food can be processed through biodigesters, such as Big Ox Energy (Riceville, IA)
Waste Vegetable Oil
Larger quantity generators should consider recycling their waste vegetable oil from fryers through a company, such as Midwest Renewable Biofuels (Prairie City, IA), that uses vegetable oil in the production of biodiesel.
The Cedar Falls Transfer Station provides a collection point for smaller quantities of waste vegetable oil from individual homes or community events, such as your church or VFW fish fry or holiday turkey fry.
Cooking Grease and Used Cooking Oil
Businesses that generate larger quantities of grease or cooking oil should consider recycling these materials through companies (that reclaim these materials to produce a wide variety of other marketable products), such as: