Memorial Day Collection Delay
Garbage, recycling, and yard waste will not be collected on Monday, May 27, in observance of Memorial Day. Regular collection will be delayed one day for the remainder of the week, with Friday collection occurring on Saturday. Learn More >>

Posted on June 26, 2019

They May be Nice on your Wallet, but the Earth is Paying for Them

Red solo cups are a common staple at the Iowa State Fair and summer BBQs, but they really came into the spotlight after Toby Keith’s song, “Red Solo Cup.” Although the song is humurous and light-hearted, the tone contradicts the impact the cups have on our environment after they’re thrown away!

The lyrics say, “A Red Solo Cup is cheap and disposable, in 14 years they are decomposable.” Several factors determine how quickly products decompose, and experts opinion vary on how long it actually takes to breakdown, but they all agree it greatly exceeds 14 years – it’s more like 450 years!

The Breakdown

The cup’s chemical bond is responsible for making the product durable, but, it also makes it resistant to decomposing. Overtime, the cup breaks into smaller pieces and releases toxic chemicals into the environment and become more likely to get ingested by animals.


  • Take reusable cups and water bottles to events (e.g. the Iowa State Fair).
  • If buying a disposable product, choose one in a recyclable container, such as beer and pop in cans and bottles.
  • Ask to have your disposable cup, refilled vs. getting a new one.

Rates Other Products Decompose

  • Apple core – 2 months
  • Cigarette filter – 1-5 years
  • Plastic bag – 10-20 years
  • Aluminum can – 80-200 years
  • Disposable diaper – 450 years
  • Glass bottle – 1 million years

Learn more about other food and beverage containers that are recyclabe in our area in our Recycling Guide.