Metro Waste Authority Collects More Than 6,000 Pounds of Plastic Bags in 2019 Campaign

Des Moines, IA (May 1, 2019) –They say children are the future, and the 2019 Plastic Bag Swap certainly proved that. Metro Waste Authority was pleasantly inundated with 6,576 pounds of plastic bags during their annual campaign for Earth Month in April.

“This challenge was originally created as a fun way to educate residents that plastic bags don’t belong in the recycling cart,” Metro Waste Authority’s Director of Public Affairs Leslie Irlbeck said. “Our member communities have taken the concept to another level, and it’s been so fun to see the creative ways they engage their communities.”

Apparently, the City of Urbandale doesn’t like to come in second place! In the 2018 Plastic Bag Swap, they came in second to Grimes for overall weight collected. In 2019, they turned up the heat, challenging eight elementary schools in the Urbandale School District with a collection competition of their own.

The challenge worked, because those environmentally conscious students collected over 2,000 pounds in one week! “The City of Urbandale has a strong commitment to environmental protection,” Parks and Recreation Director Jan Herke said. “We host many clean-up events utilizing hundreds of volunteers and the bag swap provided a unique opportunity to partner with our elementary schools. Kids are so passionate about the future of our planet and this was a great educational message.”

The school’s participation put Urbandale in a strong lead with a total of 2,258 pounds of plastic bags, making them the winner for collecting the most plastic bags by weight. “Grimes and Clive also pulled in big numbers, but those kids were tough to defeat,” Irlbeck said.

For most bags collected per capita, Alleman can celebrate its third consecutive win. “We’re so excited! We didn’t think it would happen this year, but we had a lot of community support,” Alleman City Clerk Shari Buehler said. “The first bench is at our post office and has created such a nice gathering place. This bench will go at the bus stop by our elementary school, the kids will love it!”

“This is the Plastic Bag Swap’s third year, and we’ve diverted a total of 11,557 pounds of plastic bags from the landfill. Plastic bags cause a lot of litter and pollution, as well as issues with recycling processing, so we’re glad we’ve captured so many.

“Residents have choices, including what type of bag they get,” Irlbeck explained. “Reusable or paper are great alternatives, but if a resident is going to get a plastic bag, we encourage proper disposal. This may mean reusing it at home as a small trash bag or taking it back to the grocer for recycling.

“Plastic bags do not belong in a resident’s Curb It! recycling cart.”

The agency plans to shake up the competition in 2020. “We serve 23 communities, big and small, with the Curb It! recycling program. We went with a per capita measurement the first few years, so we’re excited to change it up,” Irlbeck said.

For more information, visit or call 515.244.0021.