In 1999, Linn County required everyone in the county to separate recyclable corrugated cardboard from the garbage for the purpose of recycling. It was the first and still only agency in Iowa to ban cardboard from the landfill.
The county took action because cardboard takes up limited landfill space, is easily identifiable for recycling, and can be easily recycled or reused in the local area.
The Solid Waste Agency considers the program a success because corrugated cardboard currently makes up only 2% of the county’s waste stream, compared to an average of 9.4% cardboard in the state’s waste stream.
Landfill employees are assigned as “spotters” to monitor garbage loads as they are dumped. They look for banned materials such as corrugated cardboard. If they see a load with cardboard, they take pictures of the load, pictures of the truck that brought it in, and issue a ticket that is paid at the scale house. The penalty fine doubles the landfill fee from $38 per ton to $76 per ton.