After the Flood: Unprecedented Challenges
Appliance Recycling Programs in Iowa
ClientS: Alliant Energy, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency,
local municipalities, and local appliance retailers
Cedar Rapids, Iowa and several surrounding towns were devastated in June 2008 during a catastrophic flood, referred to as “Iowa’s Katrina.” With 5,390 homes damaged and more than one thousand businesses hit, this flood hit the local communities hard.
Utilities and municipal departments scrambled to meet intensive large-scale needs
of residents and business owners. Among the many problems were tons of ruined large
appliances requiring safe disposal and appliance recycling.
Conservation Service Group’s ROLE
The entire CSG Cedar Rapids office of six staff members stepped in and worked tirelessly to help the community and reduce the number of appliances that might otherwise go into the landfill.
CSG partnered with the U.S. EPA and the Metro Waste Authority, in addition to fulfilling
ongoing responsibilities to the Alliant Utilities and other recycling programs.
CSG has provided appliance pick-up and demanufacturing services to Alliant Energy
and several local appliance customers in Iowa since 1998.
- Drop-off and pickup of non-working appliances (inefficient refrigerators, freezers,
and window air conditioners)
- Appliances are professionally handled and recycled in an environmentally friendly
- More than 40,000 appliances recycled in one year
- 2,568 tons of appliances were diverted from landfill
- Kept pollutants out of ecosystems and refrigerants from depleting the ozone layer
Strategy & goals
In the flood’s aftermath, Conservation Service Group's local staff rallied to play a prominent role in meeting
the goal of a safe yet quick cleanup, including:
- Offering free curbside pickup of flood-damaged residential and commercial appliances
(e.g., refrigerators, freezers, air conditioners, washing machines.)
- Working extra hours, despite their own personal loss in the flood
- Hiring temporary workers and working with EPA subcontractors to help collect and
demanufacture the large volumes of appliances
- Purchasing and leasing additional trucks and equipment to meet immediate needs
Conservation Service Group brought the community much-needed help in this crisis. The Cedar Rapids facility’s
2008 reclamation results were impressive and included:
- More than 2,000 units picked up in a single week
- 41,089 total appliances recycled in 2008
- More than 5 million pounds of steel
- 39,000 lbs of non-ferrous metal (e.g., copper, aluminum, and brass)
As part of the massive cleanup effort by the federal government, in July CSG recycled
25,000 units from two EPA sites in Cedar Rapids and Iowa City. In late July, CSG
was awarded the contract to recycle all the appliances from Palo, Iowa — a town
that was completely flooded.
Conservation Service Group Contact
Calvin Ehlts, Appliance Recycling Manager