Now that the hustle and bustle of another holiday season ends, most of us are back to business and focusing on what we would like to accomplish in 2014. Although not everyone makes resolutions, many of us face the start of a new year with a goal in mind to make a change or accomplish something new. What better time than now to share some of my New Year’s resolutions and goals for FPI that we hope to accomplish throughout the year.
Over the last few years, FPI has worked on multiple projects through our Paper Recovery Alliance (PRA) and Plastics Recovery Group (PRG), to increase the recovery of foodservice packaging to keep foodservice packaging out of the landfill and to give it a second life, be it through recycling, composting, or energy recovery. When it comes to foodservice packaging recovery, we still have faced many challenges with misconceptions and awareness. This brings me to our 2014 New Year’s resolutions:
In 2014, we’ve resolved to:
· Spread the word about foodservice packaging recovery. In 2013, we set out to determine how foodservice packaging was currently being recovered. We interviewed numerous communities and MRFs to learn about their experiences handling foodservice packaging. We commissioned a food residue study that aimed to determine the levels of food residue on foodservice packaging in the residential recycling stream, and the results we found were very promising and will be continue to be studied. We surveyed a number of MRFs to benchmark the levels of acceptance of specific types of foodservice packaging for recycling. This work helped shed light on the fact that certain barriers such as food residue, are more perceived barriers. In many communities and MRFs, recovering foodservice packaging is nothing new – it’s all in a day’s work! We have the opportunity to share these results more broadly and combat misconceptions that foodservice packaging is not commonly recyclable.
· Engage with Material Recovery Facilities. FPI will work to reach out and engage with the recovery community by sharing our study and survey findings of FSP. The best way to continue increasing FSP recovery is to increase awareness of FSP among the industry, including MRFs. FPI has hosted multiple webinars for industry professionals to share some of our findings and information and we want to engage MRFs in this kind of conversation amongst industry members. MRFs are unique participants in the flow of FSP recovery and we will be reaching out to MRFs to spread awareness of FSP recovery successes, markets, and opportunities.
· Focus on composting. There has been a growing interest in composting as an alternative to sending valuable resources such as used foodservice packaging to landfills. While some foodservice packaging is indeed being sent to composting facilities, there continue to be barriers such as limited collection infrastructures. Although there are real and perceived barriers to composting FSP, there are still lots of opportunities to increase recovery of both packaging and food waste by removing these barriers. To help make this happen, we want to make composting a bigger part of the overall discussion of FSP recovery in 2014.
· Dispel another commonly-held misconception about FSP recovery. We want to promote all FSP as valuable materials and with so many types of FSP now being recycled in many cities, we want to dispel any misunderstanding people have with recovery of FSP. For example, in 2013 we addressed the hot topic of pizza boxes in recycling. Even though there were many perceived issues with pizza boxes such as food contamination, we have found multiple cities have has success with adding pizza boxes to their recycling program. We strive to prove that materials, such as pizza boxes, are untapped opportunities for recycling and composting valuable materials in a city’s program. What myth will we shatter next?
Lastly, I am going to turn the tables to you. Yes, you! As FPI works to continue increasing recovery of FSP, I encourage you to make a resolution to take part in FSP recovery as well. Continue to learn more about these perceived barriers to recovery and ask your local merchant about FSP waste. Whether it is a local restaurant or your community's recycling or composting service provider, ask what they do with their FSP waste. Help spread the word about FSP recovery!
FPI is reenergized, ready to work, and excited to see what the upcoming year has to bring!