The University of Northern Iowa will host its inaugural sustainability competition on March 31, where participants will submit their ideas on how to reduce landfill waste for a chance to win a $500 cash prize, with additional prizes for UNI students who take second and third place.

Born from a collaborative effort between UNI’s Office of Community Engagement, Iowa Waste Reduction Center and John Pappajohn Entrepreneurial Center, the competition invites students, faculty, staff and members of the community to participate in The “Cedar Valley Green Business Competition: Solving Sustainability Problems” and submit ideas. Participants will pitch them on Earth Day, April 22, 2022 for their chance to win. 

“We know there is a real problem with landfill waste and its effect on our environment,” said Joe Bolick, Director of the IWRC. “For example, 20 percent 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.”

A series of workshops and feedback opportunities will provide more information and support to participants prior to the final pitch (dates are modified from the original announcement):

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

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

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.


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


Katie Kreis, program associate at Business and Community Services