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What Progress Means To Me

Last week, FPI hosted a webinar to highlight the progress that we’re making on the recovery of foodservice packaging. We shared what prompted us to establish the Paper Recovery Alliance (PRA) and Plastics Recovery Group (PRG) in the first place, and we reviewed their ongoing work to overcome the real and perceived barriers to recycling more foodservice packaging. We talked about our plans for 2015, including future work on how to increase composting of foodservice packaging. And last, but certainly not least, we gave an update on FPI’s newest group, the Foam Recycling Coalition (FRC), and peaked everyone interest in the grant program FRC will launch in early 2015.

[Please note that the webinar was recorded, and you may find the link to the recording, as well as the slides we used during the webinar, here.]

However, progress means different things to different people. I know that for many of the PRA and PRG members, progress means that more paper and plastic foodservice packaging is going into the recycling or composting bins, both curbside and in-store. Getting to that point has been slow and sometimes tedious, I realize, but I think that our careful, very well thought out approach has helped us to gain credibility with the many stakeholders involved in our systems-based solutions to recover more foodservice packaging.

I would say we’ve very much stayed true to the “rules of the game” we laid out back in 2012:

·        Operate collaboratively in a transparent manner;

·        Use a science and market-based approach;

·        Consider the interests of the entire industry;

·        Consider all potential recovery options  including, but not limited to, composting, recycling and waste-to-energy;

·        Allow circumstances (based on material, product, location, recovery, etc. options) to determine solutions, i.e. no force fitting; and

·        No window dressing/green-washing!

If you ask me, keeping to those “rules” are indeed helping us make progress, and perhaps one way I consider that we’re making progress is just taking a look at who’s paying attention to what we’re doing.

When the PRA/PRG held a similar webinar last year, the audience was just 5 percent recyclers and composters, and 14 percent officials at the city, county, state and Federal levels. Compare that with last week’s webinar: a three-fold increase in the percentage of recyclers and composters, and a doubling in the percentage of officials from all levels. Since they are our target audience next year, it’s encouraging that they’re interested to hear what we have to say.

At this point, we know that we have done our homework (ad nauseum, perhaps). It’s time to start reaching out to those folks that are the decision makers with the knowledge we have gained over the last few years. We know the questions or concerns they may have about accepting foodservice packaging, and we have the answers to provide to them. We’ve been slowly building relationships and trust, and now it’s time to test them.

We continue to have our work cut out for us, but as that work transitions in a new direction, I am confident we are making progress. Stay tuned!


Posted By Lynn M. Dyer (President) | 12/9/2014 11:03:06 AM