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Yard Waste Collections in Iowa: What to Leave Out

PHOTO: As Iowans take care of outside fall chores, a reminder that products labeled as compostable, such containers and cups, are not to be mixed in with yard waste such as leaves and weeds. Photo credit: Phil Roeder/Flickr.
PHOTO: As Iowans take care of outside fall chores, a reminder that products labeled as compostable, such containers and cups, are not to be mixed in with yard waste such as leaves and weeds. Photo credit: Phil Roeder/Flickr.
October 6, 2014

DES MOINES, Iowa - As the leaves begin to fall and the rakes and shovels emerge from sheds and garages across Iowa, it's a perfect time to clear the confusion around composting.

Leslie Irlbeck, program-and-outreach manager with Metro Waste Authority, says it's always good to check on the local standards, but in general, anything that is vegetative outside is compostable.

"That includes leaves, branches, weeds you might find," Irlbeck says. "Or if you're cleaning out your garden this time of year and you've got some flowers starting to die, or vegetables that never made it into your house, those can all be included in your yard-waste program."

Irlbeck says items not to be mixed with the yard waste include dirt and rocks, stumps, building materials and food waste.

Also not allowed, Irlbeck says, are products labeled as compostable, which can include cups, plates, utensils and to-go containers.

"They'll say compostable, but when you're faced with the option of putting it in with your compost program, your yard waste, they actually don't go in there because these compostable products are still made of a form of plastic," says Irlbeck.

They should go in the trash, according to Irlbeck, not with the recycling, because they don't follow the rule on plastic containers, which is to only recycle those with twist-off lids.

John Michaelson, Public News Service - IA