Since the early 1990’s Iowa has utilized a Comprehensive Planning system of solid waste planning as laid out in Iowa Administrative Code (IAC) 567-101.
Now Iowa has an alternative voluntary program for solid waste planning areas and permitted facility service areas called the Iowa Solid Waste Environmental Management System (EMS) program. EMS encourages responsible environmental management while promoting environmental stewardship and continuous improvement. Iowa's EMS program promotes six areas of emphasis, called Components.
6 EMS Components
- Yard waste management
- Household hazardous waste collection
- Water quality improvement
- Greenhouse gas reduction
- Recycling services
- Environmental education
Each of Iowa's solid waste planning areas and permitted facility service areas is eligible to apply to be designated as an EMS. Applications are accepted each year on a date set the EMS Advisory Council (Council), and are recommended by the Council to the Environmental Protection Commission for designation as an EMS. Once designated, a participant is considered a "Tier 1" and begins training.
10 EMS Elements
- Environmental Policy Statement
- Environmental Aspects and Impacts
- Legal and other requirements
- Objectives and Targets
- Action Plan
- Identify Roles and Responsibilities
- Monitoring and Measurement
- Reevaluation and modification
Tier 1 participants receive specialized training on the ten "elements" of Iowa's Solid Waste EMS. Training takes place through a variety of methods, including meetings, on-site visits, webinars, conference calls and face-to-face meetings. A consultant works with DNR to help deliver this training. Each Tier 1 is matched with a Tier 2 "mentor" to help guide them through the ups and downs of implementing this type of system at a solid waste facility. When training has been completed, all ten EMS Elements have been implemented and the Tier 1 will undergo an Audit and will submit an Annual Report.
Each September 1, all EMS program participants must submit an Annual Report to the Council. Reports contain information about EMS framework, processes and most importantly accomplishments towards environmental goals. The report is a chance for "show and tell."
EMS participants are eligible for a number of special benefits including specific grant funds set aside for participants, group workshops and a variance from most Comprehensive Planning update requirements. Present EMS program participants agree, the benefits go beyond those stated. They have reported an increase in environmental performance, more satisfied employees, and note better training records, to name a few.