Posted on January 23, 2024


Environmental stewardship and responsible waste management are at the core of our agency, and recently, we were able to highlight these priorities through a unique waste diversion project.

Last fall, we were contacted by a generator, who - due to unavoidable circumstances - had 1.6 million compostable straws and 256,000 compostable forks. The straws and forks were new, in their original boxes, and delivered on pallets to Metro Recycling Facility in Grimes.

While these materials are not accepted in the Curb It! recycling or Compost It! yard waste programs, we knew they could still prove valuable to others. So, our team reached out to the Iowa Waste Exchange (IWE), which is a program through the Iowa Department of Natural Resources that connects organizations to exchange materials and keep waste out of the landfill.

Through this partnership, Metro Waste Authority and IWE coordinated and manned an onsite pick-up day for organizations interested in the packaged straws and forks.

Remaining pallets were moved to warehouse space donated to IWE in Des Moines, where distribution for those that could not attend the pick-up event will continue into spring.

So far, 20,000 pounds of forks and straws have been matched to over 30 organizations, including businesses, schools, universities, non-profits, cities, fire stations, missions, 4-H clubs, churches, conservation groups, libraries, and special fundraising events. This exchange has saved the receiving organizations nearly $55,000 in avoided purchases.