University of Northern Iowa (UNI) students, faculty, staff, and community members are invited to submit their ideas on reducing waste that goes into landfills. The Cedar Valley Green Business Competition: Solving Sustainability Problems culminates on Earth Day, April 22, when participants will pitch their idea for the chance to win a $500 cash prize.

The Iowa Waste Reduction Center (IWRC), UNI John Pappajohn Entrepreneurial Center (JPEC), and UNI Office of Community Engagement have partnered up to make the competition possible. 

“We know there is a real problem with landfill waste and its effect on our environment. For example, 20% of Iowa landfill waste is made up of food waste and 97 of Iowa’s 99 counties don’t have commercial food waste composting available to them. That’s a major area of concern, and it’s just one part of a larger issue. The more people we can involve with their innovative ideas, the better.” said Joe Bolick, Director of the IWRC.

A series of workshops and feedback opportunities will provide more information and support to participants prior to the final pitch:

  • March 8, 5-7:30 p.m.: First meeting at Gravitate Coworking in Cedar Falls 
  • March 31, 5-7:30 p.m.: Workshop at SingleSpeed Brewing in Waterloo
  • April 7, 5-7:30 p.m.: Optional pitch feedback at UNI Business & Community Services
  • April 22, 5 p.m.: Final pitches at the UNI Center for Energy & Environmental Education (CEEE) Auditorium and Atrium

“We know there are great ideas out there, and that people sometimes need a little push to get them off the ground. We want to amplify the voices of anyone who is sustainability-minded and has an idea on how to reduce waste in the Cedar Valley,” said Laurie Watje, Director of the UNI JPEC. 

Those interested should register for the first session, where more information and resources will be provided. Visit to sign up today. 

The IWRC is a nationally recognized organization at the University of Northern Iowa devoted to environmental consulting, assistance, training and education for entities with environmental impact or need. The IWRC is located in Business and Community Services at UNI. Learn more at

The UNI JPEC is empowering the next generation of entrepreneurs and innovators. Located in Business & Community Services at UNI, the JPEC offers more than a dozen programs to assist students in their entrepreneurial efforts. Learn more at 

The UNI Office of Community Engagement is dedicated to the partnership of university knowledge and resources with those of the public and private sectors to enrich scholarship, research, and creative activity; enhance curriculum, teaching, and learning; prepare educated, engaged citizens; strengthen democratic values and civic responsibility; address critical societal issues; and contribute to the public good. It is housed in the UNI Human Performance Center. Learn more at

Please contact Katie Kreis, program associate at Business and Community Services at the  University of Northern Iowa, at or 319-273-4724 for more information.

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