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Three Cities Add Foodservice Packaging to Curbside Recycling Programs

Released 10/11/2017
Washington, D.C., Chattanooga, Tennessee and Louisville, Kentucky are part of a growing number of cities recycling foodservice packaging at the curb. A combined 460,000 households in these three cities can recycle take-out packaging like paper and plastic cups, containers, pizza and sandwich boxes, and paper bags in their curbside carts and bins, thanks in part to the Foodservice Packaging Institute.

"We were thrilled to help these communities add foodservice packaging to their curbside programs," said Lynn Dyer, president of FPI. "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 on 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 and communities to pinpoint 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 research conducted with material recovery facilities in the area. The District's expanded recycling program and FPI-supported communications campaign, Zero Waste DC, was launched on October 5. The inclusion of paper cups specifically in its recycling program makes DC 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 DC and Chattanooga, there is a strong communications component in Louisville's program to ensure that residents only recycle empty cups and take-out containers.

"We will continue working with communities that are motivated to divert more materials from their waste stream,” said Dyer. "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."

For more information about recovering foodservice packaging, visit

For images from the launches in DC and Chattanooga, visit FPI's photo gallery.

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