Iowa City Moving Ahead With Trash-to-Biofuel Research

By Gregg Hennigan, Reporter

Workers dump trash Wednesday, Nov. 4, 2009 at the Iowa City Landfill & Recycling facility in rural Iowa City. Neighbors who live more than a mile from the landfill site have had a problem with a foul odor emanating form the facility for more than a year. Landfill officials say the odor is the result of a rainier than normal past few years which have caused the trash to decompose faster. (Brian Ray/The Gazette)


By Ellen Kurt

IOWA CITY, Iowa – Iowa City is moving forward with exploring a project that could divert solid waste from the landfill for use in biofuel production.

The City Council Tuesday night gave staffers the OK to proceed with two requests for proposals related to the concept. One would be to hire a consultant who specializes in solid-waste agreements. That consultant, expected to cost $40,000 to $50,000, would then help the city draft a request for proposals to find a firm that could carry out the project, said Rick Fosse, Iowa City’s public works director.

City officials last year spoke with representatives from Maryland-based Fiberight about the company's plans for a $59.5 million biorefinery plant in Blairstown in Benton County. The company wants to convert municipal solid waste into biofuel.

Fiberight at the time estimated it could decrease the amount of waste going into Iowa City’s landfill by up to 80 percent.

Fosse said the city is interested in receiving proposals from Fiberight or companies like it that provide alternatives to putting municipal solid waste into landfills. A consultant is needed because it’s such a specialized topic, he said.

Iowa City hopes to send out the second request for proposals, seeking companies that could undertake the waste-to-biofuel work, by early summer, Fosse said.

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