Keeping the Iowa State Fair Clean

This is an archived article and the information in the article may be outdated. Please look at the time stamp on the story to see when it was last updated.

DES MOINES, Iowa -- It's been one family that keeps the Iowa State Fair clean for over a decade.

"It's going to get messy," said A.J. Colosimo, crew manager for Phoenix Renewable Resources.

"They started as young kids and today they run this whole thing." said Tony Colosimo, CEO of Phoenix Renewable Resources, as he points to his son and the crew. "Him and all of his friend have been doing this since high school. We call them the Environmental Green Team."

This is the 8th year A.J. Colosimo and his high school buddies will clean the fair.

"You have to mentally prepare yourself for the amount of trash," says A.J. Colosimo. "Can't be afraid of what's in the bag. You never know what you are going to see."

About a dozen crew members work all hours of the day to keep the trash off the street.

"Crews start as early as about 5 o'clock," said Tony Colosimo. "We have another crew that comes in late and stays until the fair closes."

There are almost 1,000 barrels of trash and recycling to pick up along the curbs of the fairgrounds.

"We probably pick up 15-20 tons a day," said Tony Colosimo. "Each bag can weigh almost 100 pounds."

In those trash cans it's not just garbage, they have found some interesting items.

"They found a whole hog that was sitting in the trash," said Tony Colosimo. "Mainly it's just trash. The thing that is most difficult is the cans with liquid still in them."

Tony and his "Environmental Green Team" are just one of the many ways the fair is pushes to be more environmentally friendly.

"We have noticed that in the past three years since we added the recycling bins people are using them," says A.J. Colosimo. "It used to be that they would just throw trash in the recycling bins but now they are separating it."

The Iowa State Fair has committed to supporting environmentally friendly practices throughout the fairgrounds. The 2014 Fair recycled more than 54 tons of waste, shattering the previous record of 35 tons set in 2013.

Here’s a list of the fair’s initiatives:

  • More than 300 recycling containers throughout the grounds for Fairgoer use
  • Recycling containers in the Campgrounds (adjacent to the brick bathhouse and grocery)
  • Partnership with Keep Iowa Beautiful to maintain litter-free grounds
  • MidAmerican Energy Wind Turbine and Wind Education Center, located on Expo Hill
  • Recycling containers for cardboard placed near storage areas for food vendors and merchants
  • Cardboard collected twice a day from concessionaires throughout the grounds
  • Program for recycling plastic cups during overnight grounds clean-up
  • Utilizing environmentally-friendly cleaning products
  • Collecting and recycling grease
Notice: you are using an outdated browser. Microsoft does not recommend using IE as your default browser. Some features on this website, like video and images, might not work properly. For the best experience, please upgrade your browser.