• Clay coated and uncoated paper containers are a welcomed item in a “mixed paper” bale.


  • Poly coated paper cups and containers can be recovered through a “carton” bale and are also accepted by a growing number of mills as part of a mixed paper bale. Note that only about a third of all paper FSP is poly coated. In case you want even more detail, about half of that amount is single-sided poly and you guessed it, the other half is double-sided poly.


  • Pizza boxes are an acceptable inclusion for many OCC markets.


  • Paper bags have been an acceptable recovered material for years, going into "mixed paper" bales.

Paper Foodservice Packaging

(3/4 of the total targeted FSP tonnage):



Successful recovery requires markets that will buy the recovered material. In some cases, MRFs sell the bales of recovered material to a re-processor, and in other cases straight to an end market where a new product with recycled content is manufactured.


The good news for FSP recycling is that there are markets throughout North America that will purchase recovered foodservice packaging as part of commonly traded commodities.



Paper Cup End Markets

The number of mills accepting paper cups is growing. Check out this list of confirmed markets for paper cups across North America. For recovered fiber mills considering accepting bales with paper cups, check out this list of frequently asked questions.

Plastic Cups Bale Sort Study

As part of the most comprehensive post-consumer plastic container bale sorts done in North America, this plastic cups bale sort study conducted in 2015 showed which rigid plastic bales contained plastic cups as well as the plastic resin types and volumes of plastic cups in each bale type. Read more about the results of this study.



Impact of Foodservice Packaging on Existing Bales

Adding foodservice packaging to existing bales makes very litle difference to their composition. Read more about the estimated prevalence of FSP in bales.


To test the impact of paper foodservice packaging in mixed paper bales, a bale audit was conducted with bales purchased from New York City and Seattle markets. Read more about the overview of the study.



Composting End Markets

There are a growing number of composters in the U.S. and Canada who accept foodservice packaging. Find a searchable database at FindaComposter.com.




Recycling End Markets

For MRFs to accept materials, there must be end markets!  Click on the map of end markets below to view an interactive map of end markets for a variety of foodservice packaging materials.




















Case Studies


The case studies below highlight end markets for recovered foodservice packaging.

KW Plastics  | Troy, Alabama

Blue Mountain Plastics Recycling  | Ontario, Canada


  • PET cups and containers can be recovered either in a “Prepicked (#3-7)” bale or a “PET Bottle” bale. MRFs and communities are encouraged to talk to their PET bottle markets to see if they'll accept PET thermoforms in bottle bales. Many reclaimers accept thermofoams on a per-supplier basis, particularly from MRFs with automated sorting of PET.


  • Polypropylene cups and containers can be recovered in a polypropylene bale, a “Tubs and Lids” bale or a “Prepicked (#3-7)” bale.


  • Polystyrene (PS) cups and containers can be recovered in a polystyrene or a “Prepicked (#3-7)” bale. Foam polystyrene cups and containers may be densified and recovered in a separate foam polystyrene bale or sometimes in a “Prepicked (#3-7)” bale. For more information on foam polystyrene recycling, please check out www.recyclefoam.org.


  • Polylactic acid (PLA) cups and containers can be recovered in a PLA or “Prepicked (#3-7)” bale. The PLA recycling market is still young, with strides being made on its collection, processing and markets.

Plastic Foodservice Packaging

(1/4 of the total targeted FSP tonnage):


Toolkit brought to you by FPI's Paper Recovery Alliance (PRA) and Plastics Recovery Group (PRG).

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