A group of middle school students from Iowa City spent part of this week digging through trash behind a Coralville restaurant. The kids are working with the Iowa Waste Exchange, a division of the Department of Natural Resources, to determine how much waste from restaurants potentially could be spared from going to a landfill.

Local restaurant owner Bruce Titus believes it’s a significant amount. “Somewhere around 70-percent might be…the waste that’s going into the landfill that could go to compost,” Titus said.

The students, from Iowa City’s Southeast and Northwest Junior High Schools, hope to find alternative ways to dispose of food waste. Marty Jacobson was among the students wearing protective suits and gloves as they sorted through nearly 150 pounds of restaurant waste.

“Most all of the paper and food waste is compostable and plenty of plastics – like these cups and straws – are recyclable,” Jacobson said. The students are working with the DNR and other agencies, hoping their dirty work will bring changes at landfills and restaurants.

By Mark Carlson, KCRG-TV, Cedar Rapids