MYEP collaboration:

The College of Engineering is proud to be the first University of Iowa partner of MYEP, a local non-profit that serves clients with disabilities. We are working together to find solutions to waste diversion issues in the college. For more information please contact Natalie Potter (

Packing Material Re-use Stations:

SC 4th floor recycle room bins

ESAC maintains a program to re-use clean, sorted packing materials in College of Engineering. Consider adding to or taking from the materials in these bins. Mailboxes of Iowa City picks up our extra materials at no cost to the college. Since December 2017 we have saved 286 ft3 (approximately the size of 13 refrigerators) from the landfill! Only deposit clean materials from the list below that can be re-used.

Materials collected:

  • Styrofoam and starch packing peanuts
  • Bubble wrap
  • Air pockets

Locations available to staff, faculty, and students who work in these buildings:

  • SC 4th floor recycling room (SC 4329)
  • HWTA
  • SHL
  • NADS
  • ERF

Contact ESAC ( with questions.

Compost Program:

ESAC maintains an office-based program to collect compostable organics. Since March 2018 we have diverted 1377 lbs of compostable materials from the landfill!

Some office compost bucket locations are in private, key-carded areas. The following locations host buckets available to staff, faculty, and students who work in these buildings:

  • SC 2045 (Admissions Office)
  • SC 3307 (Hanson Center for Technical Communication)
  • SC 3008 (Mail room)
  • SC 4133 (Chemical and Biochemical Engineering department office)
  • SC 4625 (4th floor annex kitchen)
  • SHL 201 (student lounge)
  • SHL 301 (staff lounge)
  • NADS kitchenette

For more information, or if you would like to host a compost bucket in your office, please contact ESAC (

Q: What can I add to the compost bin?
A: Paper products (such as paper towels, napkins, facial tissue, uncoated paper plates, pizza boxes with food stains – in other words, those that can’t be recycled and that don’t have a plastic coating which wouldn’t break down into compost), food scraps, and anything that is labeled as being commercially compostable. See the bin lid for a more complete list of what we can and can’t compost through our vendor. Please note that regular coffee cups and most paper plates have a plastic coating that prevents them from being compostable. Some coffee cups are specifically labeled as being commercially compostable, so you can add them to our bucket.

Q: Why is CoE composting?
A: The University of Iowa set a target of 60% waste diversion from the landfill by 2020. Our current CoE diversion rates are ~15% at SC, ~25% at SHL, and ~52% at NADS. Sending our organic materials to be composted is a different kind of recycling where our non-recyclable paper and food scraps are turned into high-nutrient dirt. By participating in this composting pilot program, CoE is taking the lead on campus in composting in offices. Diverting waste from the landfill is expected to save UIowa money. It also reduces the amount of the greenhouse gas methane that is released to the atmosphere during the anaerobic breakdown of organic materials in the landfill. 

Q: Sometimes the bucket lid is really tight. Does it have to be on that tight?
A: No! The bin gets dropped off with the lid snapped down, but after the first user adds compost the lid can be set on top without snapping it down. There shouldn’t be any odors or pest problems as long as the lid completely covers the bin.

Q: Where does my compost go?
A: After Ryan from EcoCare Supply picks up our bucket, he weighs the bag of our compostable materials and takes it to the Iowa City commercial composting facility. There the compostable materials are added to a compost pile that is managed to maintain the optimal air and temperature levels to facilitate breakdown into high-nutrient dirt.

Q: Why is the pickup twice weekly?
A: It cuts down on odor and disrupts the fruit fly life cycle.

Q: Why are buckets in offices and not in hallways along with recycling and landfill bins?
A: Common area composting bins were attempted in CPHB and failed due to massive contamination with trash. They had to throw out their materials rather than send them to the composting facility. We have demonstrated that office-based bins in the College of Engineering are a successful model because each bin has one or two local hosts who take responsibility for the bin and can communicate with the other occupants in their office should issues arise. We have much lower levels of contamination and therefore a much higher rate of success with composting our organic waste.

Q: Where can I get takeout that comes in compostable and/or recyclable packaging?
A: We are actively collecting a list of businesses that we observe to be packing their food in compostable and/or recyclable materials. Please ask your favorite restaurants and coffee shops to package their food in compostable containers. Let us know if we’ve missed one!

  • New Pioneer Coop (some materials compostable and some recyclable)
  • Dumpling Darling (all materials are compostable!)
  • NODO (some materials compostable, some recyclable, and some only for landfill)
  • Pat's Diner in Papajohn Business Building (compostable flatware)

Q: Why should I participate?

  1. No more smelly offices!
    Most office trash in College of Engineering is only removed for us once per week or month by FM. Our compost bucket has a sealable lid and is removed twice per week.
  2. It turns your waste into dirt instead of a greenhouse gas.
    Compostable waste such as food and non-recyclable paper products (e.g. paper towels, napkins, facial tissue, greasy pizza boxes, food containers and tableware that say “compostable” on them) generate a potent greenhouse gas, methane, when it slowly breaks down without air in a landfill. In contrast, your compostable waste will be taken to a commercial composting facility where it is turned into high quality dirt.
  3. It turns your waste into a reusable product rather than fill up a landfill.
    The Iowa City landfill is filling up. The cost to dig a new one will be several million dollars, and that cost will likely be passed on to consumers, including homeowners, tenants, and the university, in the form of higher rates and fees. Everyone will end up paying more. You can delay or prevent the day this price increase happens.
  4. It’s easy!
    All you have to do is sort out your food scraps and compostable paper products into the bucket in your office before throwing the rest in recycling or the trash can. ESAC and Compost Ninja will take care of the rest.
HCTC Compost bucket
Admissions office compost bucket