Many small Iowa communities no longer can afford to maintain their local dumps when faced with increasing regulation and permitting fees by the EPA and Iowa Department of Natural Resources. That has forced new ways of thinking about waste management.
Reo Menning is giving a reporter a tour of Metro Park East Landfill, Iowa’s largest landfill and looking over the expanse when she brings up the fact the they are standing on 30 feet of compacted garbage. That’s the result of taking in 1,700 tons of waste each day during the six days the landfill is open each week, for a grand total of almost half a million tons of waste annually from fiscal 2003 through fiscal 2012. For perspective: that is a little more than 17 percent of the state’s waste. “What we receive can vary day to day and is affected by seasons,” said Menning, public affairs director for the Metro Waste Authority that runs the huge landfill, whose 1,800 acres could hold 2,380 football fields. Garbage is dumped in about 500 of those acres.