Throwing stuff in the garbage is such a common occurrence for us in our day-to-day lives that it's basically an unconscious act. On average, each person throws away over four pounds of trash a day. Talking about what that adds up to is fit for another piece down the road.

Instead, I wanted to get a handle on what we can and cannot throw away in the state of Iowa. When I say this, I mean what items are we prohibited from disposing in a regular dumpster/garbage can? There are a lot more than you probably think.

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Electronics Remain the Big No-No:

Electronics, such as computer monitors, keyboards, televisions, smartphones, etc. remain the most common items that find themselves disposed of incorrectly. According to Recyclenation, Iowa only requires businesses to follow federal rules on recycling electronics containing hazardous waste.

That being said, you still shouldn't crowd landfills with unused electronics. Instead, you have the option of dropping them off at local Best Buy, Costco, or Staples stores. In addition, there are also multiple recycling centers around the state of Iowa you could look into as well.

Photo Credit: Bet_Noire
Photo Credit: Bet_Noire

Old Tires and Old Meds:

Per the Iowa DNR, tires cannot be thrown in the garbage, shredded, burned, or dumped. So, how do you dispose of them?

The most ideal thing you can do with your old tires is to inquire with your local autobody/tire shop and see if they can take them off your hands. Even if they have no use for them, they will surely dispose of them properly.

It is also illegal to throw old medication in the garbage too. Generally speaking, if prescribed any antibiotics, you want to take them for the duration of your prescription, even if your symptoms lessen or disappear. Your intuition might be to flush the old meds down the toilet, but that too is not wise, for the drugs could end up in your area's water supply.

For old meds, there are over 300 pharmacies in Iowa that will take and gladly dispose of your old prescriptions.

Other Items You Cannot Legally Throw Away in Iowa:

Per the Solid Waste Agency's website, here is a complete list of items that are banned from disposal in landfills and convenience area containers "for the protection of public health and the environment, and in accordance with local, state and federal laws."

  • Regulated hazardous wastes, including flammable or toxic liquids (including paints), solids and fuels*
  • Pressurized cylinders*
  • Tires*
  • Appliances*
  • Cathode Ray Tubes (CRT) and all televisions & computer monitors*
  • Fluorescent bulbs/lamps*
  • Solar Panels
  • TSCA-regulated PCB-containing wastes, including capacitors, ballasts and transformers*
  • Lead acid automotive batteries*
  • Unapproved special wastes
  • Unapproved contaminated soil
  • Unapproved, undeclared or improperly packaged non-friable, friable, or regulated asbestos containing material (RACM)
  • Anything smoldering or on fire
  • Corrugated cardboard*
  • Yard waste*
  • Free liquids
Photo Credit: Poughkeepsie
Photo Credit: Poughkeepsie

Read more about what you can and cannot throw in Iowa landfills on Solid Waste Agency's website.

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