Recycle DSM

City of Des Moines and Operation Downtown recycling program

Recycle DSM, by Shelly Codner, Area 2

The City of Des Moines and Operation Downtown have established a recycling program aimed at creating a cleaner and greener Downtown Des Moines.  Recycle DSM aligns with the City of Des Moines’ comprehensive plan, PlanDSM, which calls for the reduction of solid waste headed to the landfill.  The Iowa Department of Natural Resources’ Iowa Waste Exchange program has assisted with the pilot, the expansion of the pilot and will continue to assist in assessing and potentially expanding the program. 

According to Amy Lego, Executive Director for Operation Downtown, “The Iowa Waste Exchange, has been an incredible resource for Recycle DSM, Downtown Des Moines’ public space recycling program.  With her recycling expertise, our Area Resource Specialist has directed waste audits and generated results for our various recycling districts.  The results from the audits and tracking have helped shape our education campaign and improve future (or expanded) recycling efforts. She has given us recycling contacts and program tips and even reviewed and edited a recycling grant application.  Her enthusiasm and willingness to help has been a great asset to our staff and the Recycle DSM program.”

Recycle DSM started as a pilot program with eight receptacles in October of 2016 in the Historic East Village. The program expanded to a 50-receptacle program in six months, with 20 recycling receptacles in Historic East Village and 30 in Western Gateway Park. The majority of bins were provided as part of a grant from Keep America Beautiful and the Coca-Cola Foundation.  During the pilot program, a total of 87 percent of the material collected in the eight recycling receptacles in Historic East Village was recyclable.

The expansion of the successful pilot was aided by the Coca-Cola/Keep America Beautiful Public Space Recycling Bin Grant Program, which awarded Operation Downtown a grant in 2016 to add recycling bins to the City. Through the grant program, Keep America Beautiful and The Coca-Cola Company are working together to address one of the primary barriers to recycling in public spaces by making access to recycling bins more readily available and convenient.

In addition to the recycling bins, sidewalk art installed throughout East Village and Western Gateway encourages residents and Downtown workers and visitors to recycle. The art includes phrases such as “Eat.Drink.Recycle.” and “The future is in your hands — Recycle DSM.”

For more information on Operation Downtown and the RecycleDSM initiative visit .  For more information regarding the Iowa Waste Exchange and additional Financial and Business Assistance Programs visit

IWE Success Stories
    This folder is empty