Planning for the Future
The Cedar Rapids Linn County Solid Waste Agency was created in 1994 via a 28E agreement between the City of Cedar Rapids and Linn County with a charge to provide Linn County with integrated solid waste management options. The Agency's original charge will end on June 30, 2044. This is the last day garbage can be accepted at 1954 County Home Road, Marion, where the landfill and Resource Recovery building are located.
Just because the landfill will close does not mean garbage will stop. The Solid Waste Agency takes in more than 600 tons of garbage daily. Linn County's waste will still need to be handled. In fact, the landfill on County Home Road is projected to be full before 2044 due to factors including increased debris after disasters such as the 2020 derecho.
The Solid Waste Agency is currently undertaking the Forward 2044 study. This effort, led by the agency’s board of directors, will ultimately decide the future of solid waste management in our community.
So far, the board has made decisions to ensure the health, safety, and welfare of Linn County through cost-effective, environmentally sound practices for the management of solid waste generated in the county. These decisions, as well as future ones, have been guided by feedback received from board meetings, presentations to stakeholders, and a public meeting.
The board has made three key decisions so far:
- Continuing the Agency past 2044. This includes continuing to offer waste disposal management, recycling services, and household hazardous waste collections for Linn County residents.
- No new landfill will be created in Linn County.
- The Agency will look to build a regional organics management facility in Linn County. A regional solution to manage food waste, yard waste and brush is more cost-effective, and larger volumes allow for additional technologies to be employed. Also, this will help Linn County be prepared to handle large volumes of organics in the case of a future natural disaster.
To help the public better understand the Forward 2044 planning process, the Agency has created a Vision Map. This document provides a high-level look at the decisions the board will make as they move toward their goal of continuing to efficiently manage waste within Linn County.
Continuing to Evaluate
This planning process is an opportunity for our community to establish a successful, sustainable, and safe future for our solid waste management needs. The Agency originally considered eight scenarios for beyond 2044. Those have been narrowed down through the selection process, using factors such as proven work history, cost, and environmental sustainability.
The board of directors has decided not to pursue siting a new landfill in Linn County. A variety of factors went into this decision, including a lack of available land due to zoning restrictions. That’s not to say a landfill won’t be part of the future waste management solution the board ultimately selects. There could be a new regional landfill developed in tandem with public or private partners – it just wouldn’t be located in Linn County.
The board is still considering scenarios that could include transfer stations or alternative technologies, such as waste to energy and anaerobic digestion. Learn more about the types of technologies and programs that could be part of the Solid Waste Agency’s future waste management scenario:
Diverting Waste Saves Space
As the existing landfill's capacity for waste continues to decline, reducing the amount of materials in the landfill is a high priority for the Agency. This diversion can take on many forms, including increased recycling, composting food waste, household hazardous waste, removing mattresses and furniture from the waste stream, transferring waste to other landfills, rejecting inbound waste at the landfill, and more. Each ton of materials diverted at the source will save room in the landfill. Waste diversion requires items to be separated from the collection point, which means consumers play an important role in these programs.
These programs convert some solid waste into energy through various methods. Burning waste, also called combustion, converts water into steam which turns a turbine to generate electricity. There are many other forms of waste to energy programs, including the use of bacteria to break down organic matter (anaerobic digestion), aerobic composting and mechanical biological treatment.
In the Midwest, landfilling is largely found to be an economically favorable waste management practice. At some level, landfilling will continue to play a role in the holistic waste management process. Alternative technologies can drastically reduce the amount of waste materials needed to be landfilled. However, residues and by-products of alternative waste technologies must still be managed. Landfilling can be accomplished via local or regional means. The Board has decided not to site a new landfill within Linn County. A new landfill could be sited with public or private partners to serve many communities, but it would be located elsewhere. This process follows various federal, state, and local procedures and policies. Many different factors are considered when determining where to site a new landfill, including cost, location and environmental impact.
Waste Transfer Stations
Waste transfer stations are a point between a community’s solid waste collection program and a final solid waste disposal facility. After solid waste is collected from residences and/or businesses, it is taken to a transfer station, where the waste is compressed and grouped together for economical transport to a final facility elsewhere. 't require a new landfill to be constructed, a waste transfer station approach would add additional costs in the collection and transportation of waste to its final destination. Presently, waste is taken to the landfill, and a tipping fee is paid for disposal. With a transfer station, there are additional costs for taking garbage to a transfer station facility, loading it onto trucks, and driven to a landfill, on top of the tipping fee.
Other Resources & Frequently Asked Questions
Links to presentations about Forward 2044 are posted here:
Board Meetings - Presentations
- 5/17/2022 Preliminary Location Assessment
- 7/19/2022 Forward 2044 Board Workshop Goals
- 1/17/2023 Forward 2044 WASTECON Site Visits Recap
- 3/21/2023 Forward 2044 Board Workshop
Questions & Comments
Have questions about Forward 2044? Comments? Let us know what you think. Send an email via our Contact Us page.