Polk County General Services

Polk County Recycling Program


Polk County operates its recycling/waste reduction program to serve approximately 1000 employees in 16 office facilities owned by the County.

Estimated Recycling Quantity

394,719 pounds (197 tons) of paper, corrugated, steel cans, wood pallets, license plates, and electronics recycled between January, 2012, and July 2013. Included in that:

  • 180 tons is paper, corrugated and steel cans from all facilities. The Polk County Jail, alone, recycles more than one ton per month of steel cans.
  • 4.5 tons of pallets are recycled every year.
  • 7.5 tons of electronics recycled in past 18 months.
  • All license plates received by the Treasurer’s office are cut in two and recycled (about 5 tons/year).
The program also saved the following:
  • 1,127 trees from destruction during 2013.
  • Enough money and resources to power 115 average sized homes for 5 months.
  • An equivalent of 30,329 gallons of oil.
  • 43 tons of paper.
  • 463,197 gallons of water.
  • 192 cubic yards of landfill in 2013.
Materials Recycled
  • Office paper
  • Magazines/catalogs
  • Tires
  • Steel cans
  • Glass bottles (detention facility)
  • Corrugated
  • Scrap metal
  • Motor oil
  • Batteries
  • Plastic bottles (detention facility)
  • Newspapers
  • Toner cartridges
  • Fluorescent bulbs/ballasts
Other Re-used Materials
  • Custodians re-use terry cleaning cloths.
  • Shipping/receiving re-uses boxes and packaging materials.
  • Archives re-uses records storage boxes.
Waste Reduction Milestones
  • The employee directory and regional phone book are on line for employees to use, reducing the need for 800 phone books over two years (1.6 tons/year).
  • An employee-driven decision to forward phone bills electronically to department heads, instead of making photocopies, saves 25,000 pages a year (0.12 tons/year).
  • An electronic purchasing/requisition system saves 70,000 pages a year over the old paper form (.3 tons/year).
  • An online version of the employee newsletter reduces paper consumption by 125,000 sheets (.61 tons/year).
  • 350 new recycling desk-side containers, with custom Polk County stickers, were added in fall, 2003 to make recycling more accessible to employees.
  • All custodians received new two-barrel carts to make recycling easier.
  • Training of both employees and custodians is ongoing, including regular prompts and incentives to keep participation high. The employee newsletter is one effective vehicle for education. Employee and staff meetings are also used. All new employees receive recycling education at their orientation.
  • Polk County had its first recycling “pledge” drive in fall, 2003. Of 1070 forms sent out, 568 were returned with a pledge to recycle. Nine facilities had 100 percent participation in the pledge.
  • Polk County collected and recycled over 14 tons of paper in its first ever Clean Out Your Files Day in November, 2003.
  • Polk County contracted with Metro Waste Authority to conduct two comprehensive multi-facility waste assessments to identify opportunities to reduce waste.
  • The Polk County Board of Supervisors has requested all documents be printed two sided and on letter-sized (not legal) paper.
  • The Polk County Board of Supervisors passed an Environmental Management System policy in April, 2003, stating its commitment to protecting the environment and the health and safety of employees, clients and the greater community. A six-member team of Polk County employees is working to transform the policy statement into a working Environmental Management System (EMS).
  • The County has an Energy/Resources Steering Committee, representing all departments, that meets quarterly to work on waste reduction.

Recycled Products Purchased
  • 30% post-consumer recycled copy paper.
  • Recycled letterhead, envelopes, toilet paper, napkins, paper towels, boxes, toner cartridges and notepads.
  • 10% post-consumer recycled file folders.

Contact Us

Polk County Administrative Building
111 Court Avenue Suite 365
Des Moines, Iowa 50309-2251
General Services: 515-286-3215

County CourtHouse: 515-286-3772
Justice Center: 515-286-3772

Other County Properties: