City Council considers landfill technology


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City officials are carefully considering a new, alternative waste-management technology, which could lower the waste in the Iowa City Landfill by 80 percent.

Iowa City Public Works Director Rick Fosse presented information about a waste processing company called Fiberight to Coralville, Iowa City, and other area officials.

Last December 2013, the City Council voted to accept Fiberight as the preferred contractor for solid-waste management. Now the council is considering a contract with Fiberight that would give the company much of the city’s waste. The city will also pay to process this waste into ethanol, if the agreement is approved.

Currently the landfill takes in approximately 400 tons of waste per day — around 52 percent of which is organic waste Fiberight could convert to ethanol.

“It sounds like a very appealing way to be able to reduce what is going into our landfill,” Fosse said. “They’re estimating that we can reduce [waste by] 75 to 80 percent.”

Fiberight was the only party to answer the city’s request for new technologies last year. Though the councilors are considering an agreement, Councilor Susan Mims said nothing is certain yet.

“There are a lot of decision points still in front of us,” she said.  “Even if we go with Fiberight, those decisions have not been made.”

Though Fosse was optimistic about the outcome of a potential agreement, others weren’t so ecstatic. Board of Supervisors Chairwoman Janelle Rettig said she had some major concerns about Fiberight.

“[As] an environmentalist, I’m really worried about this,” she said. “I’m concerned about paying this company our money for untested technology.”

When the council voted to take on Fiberight as a contractor, many shared Rettig’s environmental concerns, saying the company wouldn’t be a good option for the city.

Councilor Jim Throgmorton voted against the proposal to have the company as a contractor. Though he agrees the partnership has potential, he wants to be sure the council considers everybody involved.

“I think it shows some promise,” he said. “But it would be important to involve all affected stakeholders.”

Iowa City Mayor Matt Hayek said it is important to get all of their questions about Fiberight answered and to ensure any agreement city officials make covers all the bases.

“There are many details to an agreement of this nature,” he said. “If we come up with something that makes sense … we’ll make sure any agreement that is made is comprehensive.”

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