(The Center Square) – Iowa ranked seventh in a national state-by-state analysis of waste-reducing policies, infrastructure, waste production and recycling rates.
In its “2023’s Best States at Managing Waste” report, lawn care startup LawnStarter ranked states based on 28 metrics in four categories: Policies, Facilities, Recycling and Waste. Data came from other LawnStarter studies, Ball Corporation, ClotheDonations.com, Environmental Finance Center at the University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill, Habitat for Humanity, The Recycling Partnership, National Conference of State Legislatures, Northeast Recycling Council, Salvage-Parts.com, U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and US Composting Council.
While Iowa ranked only 14th in both the Policies and Recycling categories, it ranked third in facilities and fifth in waste.
Iowa has mandatory recycling laws, earning it a full score in the heaviest-weighted metric in the “Policies” category, but it was docked in electronic waste recycling programs presence, plastic bag bans presence and multifamily recycling policies presence, compared with the rest of the nation. Iowa tied with the nation’s best performers in beverage container deposit laws and yard debris bans.
Iowa had the fourth-best recycling rate for common containers and packaging material and the 10th highest share of production-related waste recycled. However, it ranked around or below average in the rest of the Recycling metrics. Those metrics included tons of hazardous waste recycled (31st), share of production-related waste managed for energy recovery (36th), number of Habitat for Humanity ReStores (22nd) and car junkyards (23rd).
In Facilities, Iowa ranked seventh for recycling facilities per 100,000 residents and third for large-waste facilities per 100,000 residents. However, it was 41st for both municipal solid-waste landfills and hazardous-waste recyclers per capita. It was 28th for hazardous-waste sites per capita.
LawnStarter’sdetermination in November 2021 that Iowa wasted the seventh-least amount of food and Iowa’s possession of the 16th least tons of waste in landfills by state surface area contributed to the state’s relative success in the Waste category’s highest-weighted measures.
In the overall ranking, The Hawkeye Stateoutpaced its neighbors. Minnesota placed ninth while Illinois was 11th. Wisconsin ranked 14th. South Dakota (30th), Nebraska (31st) and Missouri (33rd) trailed behind.
Wisconsin and South Dakota do, however, have the second and third, respectively, most recycling facilities, per capita. Illinois has the third highest share of production-related waste recycled. South Dakota has the fifth fewest tons of waste in landfills by state surface area.
Connecticut won the gold medal in the report. Every state that placed in the top 10, except for second-place winner California, was in the North.
“Each of these states ranked in the top 10 of our “Policies” category — apart from Iowa at No. 14 — and in the top 15 of our “Waste” metrics, showing their policies work,” the report said.
Widener University Associate Professor and Civil Engineering Chair Ronald Mersky said in the report that to cut down on waste, consumers can buy less and think about what they throw out that they didn’t use. Locally managing waste instead of transporting it long distances for disposal or treatment will also help the environment, he said.