What do I do with

Food Waste & Composting

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, organizations, and faith communities is through food waste reduction!


Food Waste

Food waste at a landfill.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.


Food RecoveryU.S. EPA Food Waste Recovery Hierachy.

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. The EPA’s Food Stewards Program provides specific information for food waste reduction within faith communities.

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:


Generate electricity through biodigestion:


Waste Vegetable Oil

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:

The City of Waterloo Waste Management Department has adopted an ordinance to regulate Fats, Oils and Greases (FOG) from Food Service Establishments. Contact your city or county about their policies.

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