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Three U.S. Cities Add Foodservice Packaging to Curbside Recycling Programs

With this update, cities can now accept and recycle takeout packaging like paper and plastic cups, containers, pizza and sandwich boxes and paper bags.

Washington, D.C., Chattanooga, Tenn., and Louisville, Ky., have teamed up with the Foodservice Packaging Institute (FPI) to add foodservice packaging to their curbside recycling programs. With this update, cities can now accept and recycle takeout packaging like paper and plastic cups, containers, pizza and sandwich boxes and paper bags.

“We were thrilled to help these communities add foodservice packaging to their curbside programs,” said Lynn Dyer, president of FPI, in a statement. “Our approach relies on strong end-markets partnering with recycling processors, and communities educating their residents to ensure these materials are recycled properly.”

FPI spent five years conducting extensive research to understand the real and perceived barriers to getting more foodservice packaging recycled. The organization then facilitated discussions with end-markets, material recovery facilities (MRFs) and communities to identify opportunities to recycle paper and plastic foodservice packaging in residential curbside programs.

Washington, D.C., developed its new list of recyclables, including paper and plastic foodservice packaging, based on the research conducted with MRFs in the area. The District’s expanded recycling program and FPI-supported communications campaign, Zero Waste DC, launched on October 5. The inclusion of paper cups specifically in its recycling program makes D.C. one of the largest cities in the U.S. to accept these items, and a leader in the growing global movement to recycle paper cups.

Chattanooga partnered with its local recycling facility to expand its recyclables to include paper and plastic cups, containers, pizza and sandwich boxes and paper bags. With help from FPI, the city launched an outreach campaign on September 22 to inform residents of the new acceptable materials and how to properly recycle these items.

Louisville Mayor Greg Fischer, along with the city’s recycling processor and FPI, will announce the addition of foodservice packaging to Louisville’s residential recycling program during a press conference on October 18. As with D.C. and Chattanooga, there is a strong communications component in Louisville’s program to ensure that residents only recycle empty cups and takeout containers.

“We will continue working with communities that are motivated to divert more materials from their waste stream,” said Dyer in a press release. “If your community has a strong recycling program with viable end-markets nearby, we want to hear from you. It’s a win all around—for communities and their residents as well as for local recyclers, mills and plastics reclaimers.”

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