Spring yard waste collection in Dubuque includes food scraps

April  03, 2013

Collection of yard waste and food scraps began Monday in Dubuque, and other cities in eastern Iowa and northwestern Illinois. Each year, Dubuque's weekly curbside pickup program runs from April through November.

Paul Schultz, the city's Resource Management Coordinator, prefers to call grass clippings, leaves and branches "yard debris." He says, "It's not waste until it's wasted. It can be used for a beneficial use."

In 2006, Dubuque began picking up food scraps from homes, schools and businesses, taking them to the city's compost site. But Schultz says it can only accept a maximum of two tons per week.

He hopes Dubuque will finalize a contract soon with a Minnesota-based company called Full Circle Organics. It could accept up to 39 tons of food scraps per week. "The private company can keep food out of the waste stream and create a product for gardeners," according to Schultz.

Full Circle Organics may also collect methane produced by the breakdown of the food scraps. That would keep the gas from polluting the air, and allow it to be sold for commercial use.