By Brooklyn Draisey
More apartments in Iowa City will offer recycling as their rental permits are renewed.
Before the Iowa City City Council passed a regulation in November 2016 requiring property managers and landlords to offer recycling, many property managers and landlords didn’t provide it as a way to save money, city recycling coordinator Jane Wilch said.
Now, every multifamily apartment and condominium will provide methods of recycling by the end of this year.
Wilch said the response from landlords and tenants so far has been positive. The city is enforcing the mandate for each unit when rental permits needs to be renewed.
In a previous Daily Iowan article, Senior Housing Inspector Stan Laverman said that of the 19,000 rental units in the city, approximately 600 multifamily unit buildings’ rental permits are up for renewal this year.
“If an apartment building needs to renew their rental permit, they cannot renew it until they have recycling in place at their facilities,” Wilch said.
UI Sustainability Office recycling coordinator Elizabeth Mackenzie said students living off campus have wanted recycling for many years, and they raised their voices in support of getting the regulation passed. With this and cardboard being banned from the landfill, some students have been confused about what to do with their cardboard if their building doesn’t offer recycling.
“Because the cardboard ban went into effect, and there are some apartment buildings that still don’t have recycling, we’ve had some questions come up about what to do about cardboard if the apartment building doesn’t have recycling yet …” Mackenzie said. “I think there’s a bit of overlap that’s creating some confusion.”
UI junior and secretary for UI Environmental Coalition Denise Cheeseman, who lives in one of the buildings without recycling, said it’s quite the hassle to get rid of her recyclables.
She noted that students seemed informed and involved in what is going on, and her landlords have communicated with them about how to dispose of cardboard.
The Iowa City Recycling Center is focused on being a resource for landlords and tenants for information on what can and cannot be recycled. If someone throws items such as garbage or glass into the recycling bin, everything becomes contaminated, preventing it all from being recycled. Many providers have fees for contamination, so tenants need to know what is allowed and what isn’t.
“Once that bin is placed behind an apartment building or behind a row of condominiums …” she said. “We want to make sure tenants are aware of what can be recycled and also especially what kinds of materials shouldn’t be going into recycling bins to avoid that contamination.”
UI Sustainability has given information on the new regulation and cardboard ban via its communication networks, and Mackenzie said if students ask something she can’t answer, she can send them to the city for more details.
“I’ll get phone calls from students and I’ll help them as best I can, and then I can connect them with the right people at the city to answer questions in more detail or provide information I don’t have,” she said.
Cheeseman said this is a great step toward a greener Iowa City, and she hopes offering recycling will give tenants and landlords more motivation to practice green activities.
“I’m really excited to see how Iowa City and the university expand their recycling and waste management even further in the future,” she said.