A growing number of restaurant and foodservice operators recycle items like cardboard. Many compost food scraps. What’s next? As these efforts become more mainstream, operators may be wondering about recycling or composting those cups, containers, boxes, bags and other items used by their customers.


The National Restaurant Association (NRA) and FPI have teamed up to offer tips and information on how to implement on-site recycling and composting programs, with an emphasis on foodservice packaging.



Why Recycle/Compost Foodservice Packaging?

Consider these reasons to engage in an in-store recycling/composting program for foodservice packaging and related materials:


  • Reduce costs: You can save money in disposal costs by recycling and/or composting. In many cases, recycling and composting services cost less than trash services.

  • Save resources: Many materials tossed in the trash are valuable resources. Recycling gives items a second life when they’re used to produce new products such as plastic bottles, cereal boxes, tissues and picture frames. Similarly, organic waste materials can be turned into compost, a valuable soil amendment for farmers and other end markets.

  • Comply with laws: You could be required to recycle and/or compost certain items, including foodservice packaging. Implementing in-store recycling and/or composting programs can help you become compliant and avoid fines. Check the map below to find out more:
























  • Support your sustainability goals:  Recycling and/or composting foodservice packaging materials could help support your business’s environmental objectives.

  • Gain customer appreciation: Increasingly, consumers support businesses with “environmentally friendly” practices. You can demonstrate your commitment to the environment and increase brand loyalty by giving customers the opportunity to recycle or compost their waste in-store.

Click on the map to find recycling and/or composting policies that may impact foodservice operators in the U.S. and Canada

How to Recycle/Compost Foodservice Packaging

Five steps to establish in-store recycling and composting programs​


Click on a step below to find out more:










Did you know?


According to the National Restaurant Association's 2018 "State of Restaurant Sustainability:"


  • Nearly two-thirds of restaurants recycle their cardboard or paper. Over a quarter of restaurants recycle their plastics, cans or glass.

  • Over half of restaurants buy some items certified as compostable, and nearly three-quarters purchase products made from recycled materials.

  • More than one in ten restaurants compost their food scraps, typically collected both back and front of house.


Click here to see more of the survey results.


Pro Tip:











Reach out to hospitality schools, universities or community colleges to find interns who can research and implement recycling projects. Restaurant operators could benefit from their knowledge.edge.

 FPI would like to thank the National Restaurant Association for its support of this project. To learn more about how the NRA helps the foodservice community operate in an environmentally-beneficial manner, check out their Conserve Program.

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

  • YouTube Social  Icon
  • Blogger Social Icon
  • LinkedIn Social Icon
  • Wix Facebook page
  • Twitter Social Icon

© 2019 Foodservice Packaging Institute, Inc. All Rights Reserved.