Joe Horaney, spokesman for the Cedar Rapids/Linn County Solid Waste Agency, says the state’s residents have come a long ways in just a few years of reducing, reusing and recycling. “Recycling is coming along really well in Iowa,” Horaney says. “Right here in Linn County, we’re seeing less and less garbage being thrown away each year while the recycling numbers are going up a little bit. That’s really encouraging.” Part of the message behind America Recycles Day is to remind Iowans of the positive impacts and that more material than ever before doesn’t need to be chucked in the trash.
“Everyone knows the paper, the plastic, the glass, but now we’re seeing people taking that next step with things like electronics, fluorescent bulbs, hazardous materials such as paint, chemicals, stains, cleaners, that sort of thing,” Horaney says. “People are really going to that next level and that’s what we want to see.”
Iowa’s recycling industry supports more than 11,000 jobs and generates an annual industrial output of more than two-billion dollars. Horaney says there’s a great example in Cedar Rapids of a company that’s now recycling roofing shingles, which ordinarily fill thousands of dumpsters and landfills every year. “The asphalt company actually takes the old shingles and grinds them up,” Horaney says. “They come out almost looking like really black dirt and then they’re using it to make new asphalt roads. We say basically it’s going from roof to road here in eastern Iowa and we’re seeing a lot more of that.”
At a promotional event in Cedar Rapids on Saturday, people who bring in a “selfie” of themselves recycling something can get a t-shirt. Across Iowa, about one-third of all waste that’s produced is recycled.