Kent County, Mich., recently became the first Michigan community and sixth nationally to receive an education grant from the Foodservice Packaging Institute (FPI) to increase awareness of recycling clean and empty cups and takeout food containers.
Kent County will use its FPI Community Partnership education grant to raise resident awareness about what can and cannot be recycled. In addition to paper, cardboard, metals, glass and cartons, Kent County residents can recycle clean and empty plastic cups and containers and pizza boxes.
“Kent County is committed to reducing landfill waste by 90 percent by 2030,” said Kristen Wieland, communications and marketing manager for Kent County Department of Public Works, in a statement. “FPI’s grant helps us educate our community to participate in recycling at home, including clean pizza boxes and plastic cups and containers.”
In a recent survey of more than 2,100 Kent County residents, 38 percent of respondents said their motivation to recycle is because it is good for the planet and to keep plastics and other materials out of oceans. About a quarter of the respondents said keeping material out of landfills was their motivation to recycle.
“We’ve learned that most residents across Michigan and the entire nation want to recycle the takeout items they use frequently,” said Natha Dempsey, vice president of FPI, in a statement. “FPI is pleased to partner with Kent County so its 309,500 households may now recycle these items.”
FPI’s grant to Kent County was announced at a joint press conference with Michigan’s Department of Environment, Great Lakes and Energy (EGLE). The department has devoted about $450,000 to assist recycling and recovery in West Michigan. “We were excited and humbled to present our grant alongside EGLE’s,” said Dempsey. “FPI members employ nearly 4,000 Michiganders with a total payroll of more than $250 million.”
In addition to Kent County, FPI Community Partners include Washington, D.C.; Chattanooga, Tenn.; Louisville, Ky.; Denver; and Millennium Recycling in Sioux Falls, S.D. These communities received education grant assistance, communications resources and/or technical assistance from FPI as they expanded their recycling programs to include foodservice packaging. In each of the communities, the outreach campaigns reminded residents not only what to recycle but that only clean and empty items should be recycled. As a result, community partners have seen quality recyclables increase and contamination decrease.