What's in your trash? Study aims to find out - KWWL - Eastern Iowa Breaking News, Weather, Closings

What's in your trash? Study aims to find out

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DUBUQUE (KWWL) -

A trash survey is underway at Dubuque's landfill, aiming to find out exactly what we're sending there.

The Dubuque landfill took in about 120 thousand tons of garbage last year, but officials say many of the things we throw out shouldn't be put in the garbage.

A team from Des Moines is in Dubuque this week, sorting 50 samples, each weighing 220 pounds, into 60 categories.

"The purpose behind it is to really look at the things that are there and what we can maybe market and try and use some education efforts to divert some of those materials out of the trash," said Bev Wagner with the Dubuque Metropolitan Area Solid Waste Agency.

Among the garbage, one of the biggest groups that doesn't belong here in food waste, Wagner says.  Organic matter made up nearly 30 percent of the garbage during a the same study conducted in 2011.

"When organics decompose in the landfill, they create methane gas. And methane gas is a harmful gas to the atmosphere. So we create less of that and overall it's less environmental impact," she said.

The study gives the city a better idea if their educational programs on what to or not to throw away are working.

"Really it's just giving the facilities a snapshot in time to see how their programs are working. And then they can tweak their programs or know if something new is coming in that they haven't seen the last few times that they need to implement a new program," said Christine Collier, the project manager.

The study was commissioned by the Iowa DNR.  They'll have results from the full study in October.

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