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Coalition to Oppose Attacks on Recycling In America

May 27, 2002
background | letter to governor of Iowa | back
Contact: Peter Anderson

Environmentalists oppose attempt to
repeal key recycling law in Iowa

Washington, DC - Eight leading national, state and local recycling and environmental organizations today opposed legislation awaiting Iowa Governor Vilsack’s signature to amend the current Iowa law banning the disposal of yard trimmings so that grass and leaves can be landfilled at the Des Moines landfill instead of being composted. The organizations are the GrassRoots Recycling Network, the U.S. Composting Council, the Natural Resources Defense Council, Friends of the Earth, the Institute for Local Self Reliance, Eco-Cycle, Eureka Recycling, the Ecology Center and Filtrexx International.

“This legislation repeats an attempt made last year in Illinois. If enacted in Iowa, the bill would constitute the first frontal assault on one of the more successful pillars of America’s recycling policy,” said Bill Sheehan, co-director of the Athens, GA-based GrassRoots Recycling Network. “The proposal would overturn source separation programs for composting yard trimmings and a Iowa ban on yard trimmings in landfills. Yard trimming programs have also been enacted in at least 21 other states,” he said.

“The Coalition to Oppose Attacks on Recycling in America is countering Des Moines’ attempt to amend the current Iowa law banning the disposal of yard trimmings so that the City can save the cost of separate collection of yard debris,” said Friends of the Earth’s Erich Pica. He stated that five times as much can be saved by continuing the ban but simply eliminating curbside collection of grass clippings. Instead, encourage homeowners to leave the clippings on their lawn as a soil amendment, he said.

Such a reversal would “undermine one of the most important elements of America’s recycling efforts,” according to Allen Hershkowitz of the Natural Resources Defense Council. “Iowa’s yard waste ban has been a huge success in reducing the need for additional landfills and promoting successful composting of yard trimmings, and it should be maintained,” according to Hershkowitz.

“Bans on disposal of yard trimmings in landfills have made it possible to essentially double the overall diversion rate and are absolutely vital to achieving America’s recycling goals, which is why 21 other states have also enacted laws banning disposal of yard trimmings,” noted Neil Seldman from the Institute for Local Self-Reliance.

“Repealing those bans would undermine the American composting industry,” said Jim McNelly from the U.S. Composting Council.
For all of those reasons, the Coalition believes that the proposal would dramatically undermine the Nation’s recycling and composting efforts, and be a threat to the environment, concluded Eric Lombardi from Eco-Cycle, Michael Garfield from Ecology Center and Susan Hubbard from the St. Paul Neighborhood Center, who run the nation’s leading non-profit recycling operations.

In a letter to Governor Thomas J. Vilsack, the organizations urged the Board to veto the proposal, said Rod Tyler of the Filtrexx International.

A technical discussion of the issue is posted at
For more information from the participating organizations, contact:
National Organizations
Natural Resources Defense Council (Allen Hershkowitz, 212-727-4455)
Friends of the Earth (Erich Pica, 202-783-7400 ext. 229)
GrassRoots Recycling Network (Bill Sheehan, 706-613-7121)
U.S. Composting Council (Jim McNelly, 320-492-5076)
Institute for Local Self-Reliance (Neil Seldman, 202-232-4108)
Local Organizations
Eco-Cycle, Boulder CO (Eric Lombardi, 303-444-6634)
Ecology Center, Ann Arbor MI (Michael Garfield, 734-761-3599)
Eureka Recycling, St. Paul MN (Susan Hubbard, 651-221-4462)
Waukesha County Environmental Action League, WI (Charlene Lemoine, 262-574-7568)
Filtrexx International, Des Moines IA (Rod Tyler, 440-926-8041)


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