Iowa – Composting Rules

Iowa banned the landfill disposal of yard waste in 1991 (567-105.1(3)), and instituted regulations to broadly encourage composting, including on-farm, small-scale food scrap composting. The state’s rules allow composters to accept up to two tons of food scraps per week from off-site generators without obtaining a solid waste permit, although they still must comply with specific site and operating requirements or their exempt status may be revoked.

The Iowa Administrative Code’s Chapter 567, Environmental Protection Commission, Subchapter 105.5(1), “Organic Materials Composting Facilities” states:

Small composting facilities are exempt from obtaining a solid waste composting permit provided the facility complies with 105.3(455B,455D) and 105.5(455B,455D) […] Yard waste and food residuals may be received from off premises at a total rate of two tons or less per week for composting either singly, in combination, or with agricultural waste. Any clean wood waste free of coating and preservatives may be used as a bulking agent. The two tons per week combined weight limit does not apply to bulking agent. However, the amount of bulking agent received must be appropriate for the amount of compostable materials received. Facilities composting over two tons of food residuals and yard waste per week in any combination from off premises must obtain a permit (Form 50A (542-1542A)) and adhere to the solid waste composting requirements stipulated in 105.7(455B,455D) through 105.14(455B,455D).

Although a permit is not required, sections 105.3 and 105.5 outline the requirements to which exempt facilities must adhere. These sections contain specific site requirements including, but not limited to: the requirement that compost facilities be greater than 500 feet from any existing inhabited residence, outside of wetlands, and 200 feet from any public well. In addition, composting must be performed in a manner that minimizes the formation of leachate, with measures “[…] taken to prevent water from running onto the facility from adjacent land and to prevent compost leachate and runoff from leaving the composting facility. Runoff from the composting facility must be properly managed.”


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Original post from July 30, 2012
Updated July 23, 2021

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Brenda Platt

Brenda Platt directs ILSR's Composting for Community project.