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Iowa companies achieve economic and environmental results through innovative DNR program

  • 9/19/2019 3:28:00 PM
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DES MOINES — Interns helped divert almost 21 tons of hazardous waste from the landfill and saved more than 13 million of gallons of water, a result of their environmental improvement recommendations for Iowa companies this summer.

Iowa businesses have saved more than $91 million since 2001 as a result of putting recommendations like these into place, all offered by students with the Iowa Department of Natural Resources’ Pollution Prevention Intern Program.  

The DNR’s P2 Intern program partners top engineering students with Iowa facilities looking for cost-effective ways to cut or eliminate waste from operations to improve environmental performance, and ultimately save money. P2 interns analyze current systems, research alternative processes or technologies, and develop strategies to improve the way resources are used. 

“This program is an excellent resource to employers in the State of Iowa. Each year, our assigned intern has provided us with results that have helped us improve our sustainability programs and environmental management,” said Brian Herbst, Plant Safety Manager for Smithfield Foods in Sioux City.

The 2019 intern class recommended improvements that could potentially save companies more than $2.5 million annually. While on-site, the interns began implementing improvements that will save host companies more than $300,000 annually. These projects will conserve water and energy, reduce chemical usage and hazardous waste, divert waste from landfills, and reduce greenhouse gas emissions.

Annual environmental reductions generated in 2019 include:

  • 13,092,255 gallons of water;
  • 64 tons of hazardous waste;
  • 4 million kilowatt hours of energy;
  • 150,661 Therms of heat energy;
  • 61 MTCO2e (greenhouse gases)

This year, 11 host companies and interns joined this unique partnership of business, academia, and government to effect change. While 10 interns completed their projects in August and many of their recommendations are already in place, one intern and host company committed to a 24-week project and will continue to work together until mid-November developing strategies to reduce solid and hazardous waste and associated costs.

Project requests are currently being accepted from companies interested in participating in the 2020 Pollution Prevention Intern Program. Project Request forms are available at