A Look Inside the Iowa Waste Reduction Center
The Iowa Waste Reduction Center (IWRC), a non-profit at the University of Northern Iowa’s Business and Community Services (BCS), has been working with Iowa businesses since 1987. Driven by the need for environmental sustainability, the IWRC offers assistance to small businesses and industrial communities alike. What makes this BCS program unique though is the multitude of services offered. It’s more than just reducing waste and environmental compliance, it’s about educating businesses, which is the key to continued sustainability
There are two core services of environmental assistance and industrial painter training, as well as an emphasis on food waste reduction and landfill diversion. With more than 28 years of experience, the IWRC is well-versed in interacting throughout all of Iowa’s 99 counties and these services have become the cornerstones to successful sustainability and waste reduction.
Environmental Assistance to Small Businesses
IWRC’s technical environmental assistance programs provide quality services for a variety of small business clients. Through an On-Site Review, IWRC staff complete a confidential and comprehensive consultation of facility operations to help businesses meet environmental regulations and reduce material waste. Iowa small businesses with less than 200 employees can take advantage of this service at no charge; over 3,800 such reviews have been conducted throughout the state.
When it comes to needing air emissions assistance, Iowa small businesses turn to the IWRC’s Iowa Air Emissions Assistance Program which provides technical assistance, as well as education and training in an effort to meet environmental regulations and improve Iowa’s air quality. These services are also provided at no charge to Iowa small businesses with less than 100 employees. These types of services benefit the business, the community and the environment.
Industrial Painter Training
The industrial painter training program, developed and directed by the IWRC, enhances Iowa’s industrial education and leads to a trained workforce. The painter training program provides classroom and in-booth training through uniquely developed curriculum, and for the past eight years, the IWRC has taken painter training even further through the development and use of virtual reality training using the VirtualPaint. This award-winning system allows training to broaden its outreach and give students a hands-on learning experience in the classroom without using actual materials.
Industrial clients, large and small, have utilized these training options whether to meet regulatory training requirements, improve production or reduce waste. Effective painting leads to a better finished product, cost savings and a reduced environmental footprint; all creating a cleaner Iowa and training the workforce to improve Iowa’s local communities.
Food Waste Reduction
With food waste problems on the rise, the IWRC is working with businesses, landfills and individuals throughout the state to spread awareness and educate on ways to alleviate this problem. Food waste is affecting Iowans and their communities at an alarming rate. In fact, 13.3% of all landfilled waste in Iowa is food waste and it has increased 62% in the last 13 years. Educating Iowans about the measures they can take to reduce food waste has become an important part of the IWRC. Through the development of case studies, regulatory summaries, and more, the IWRC has built the foundation to help businesses and individuals alike learn ways they can make an impact. An upcoming training workshop, taking place in August in Cedar Falls will focus on one such effort – composting; how to incorporate food waste, and how farmers and the community can redirect waste into becoming a resource.
Though IWRC’s services work with different sizes of businesses and industries, it all comes down to helping to meet environmental regulations and reducing our impact on our natural resources. Educating and enhancing the well-being of Iowans across the state continues to be an important aspect of the IWRC. For more information about IWRC programs or services, please visit iwrc.org.
Mallory Feeney, BCS Public Relations Intern