Foodservice Packaging Recovery Case Study
Boise, Idaho has been collecting foodservice packaging (FSP) for over 10 years. For Boise, accepting FSP is driven by the city's access to a sorting facility that accepts FSP and a supportive and interested community.
Currently, Boise collects a variety of materials in a single stream (no glass), bales the materials, and sends the bales for sorting and processing to the SP Recycling material recovery facilities (MRFs) in Portland and Tacoma, among others. Boise is presently constructing their own MRF, with a planned capacity of 20 tons per hour. The newest MRF will be operated by Western Recycling.
Curbside containers at the curb in Boise
Foodservice Packaging Materials
Accepted in the recycling bin:
Paper egg cartons
Paper take-out container
Plastic take-out containers
Not accepted in the recycling bin:
Food boxes or containers with excessive food residue
Paper cups and plates
Although some cities have expressed concerns about recycling foodservice packaging, the City of Boise does not consider foodservice packaging – or any contamination associated with it – a concern. A representative from the city and from Western Recycling did not mention any specific challenges with FSP. The challenge they do face is receiving materials that are not on their accepted items list. The three most common contaminants are glass, EPS, and plastic bags/wrap.
One concern cities may raise about adding FSP is cost, however, Boise said that there has been no discernible cost increase after beginning to recycle FSP .
Foodservice packaging is not a noticeable portion of the single stream of recyclables that Boise sends to MRFs to be processed.
With Boise's own MRF being built, Boise Solid Waste Programs Manager Catherine Chertudi and Western Recycling Manager Rick Gillihan are concerned with the recycling of non-bottle plastics because of China’s "Green Fence" policy. They worry about the future of marketing #5 (polypropylene), #6 (polystyrene), and #7 (other) plastics and if newly developing domestic markets for these materials will be able to fill the void at a market price that will enable MRFs to justify segregating the material.
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