A promise made by the Iowa City Downtown District to improve the alleys is about to see major movement this April.  “There are some risks associated to the approach,” said Nancy Bird, Executive Director of the ICDD, “but we hope to see significant reductions in the number of garbage bins, additional recycling, and cleaner alleys as a result.” The approach the City and ICDD worked through included City action to publicly bid out solid waste services in the public alleys.
This, after a two and a half year process including research by the University of Iowa, several business surveys, City Council action and a City public bidding process for Downtown and the Northside Marketplace public alleys. Republic Services won a 3-year contract to provide garbage and recycling with partners Johnson County Refuse for composting and Darling Restaurant Services for grease and cooking oil.  No other refuse companies will be permitted bin or grease trap permits Downtown as of March 31, although other hauler bins in private alley nooks that don’t require permits can continue.
Through economies of scale, the Republic Services contract is intended to see a more responsive, efficient, cost-effective, and cleaner approach to garbage provision in the Downtown area.  Businesses anticipate lower costs and additional servicing for 6-day-week service.  Bird notes, “We are appreciative of the City’s action on this and we look forward to reviewing before and after data on both cleanliness, as well as how much garbage we divert from the City landfill out of the City Center to recycled materials or compost.”  Downtown alley changes occur at roughly the same time that the City moves to support residential composting City-wide.