Foodservice Packaging Recovery Case Study

Stamford, Connecticut

Background

Stamford, Connecticut, a city of approximately 130,000 residents, has had a single stream recycling program for nearly 10 years. Since the switch from a dual stream to a single stream system back in 2008, the city has been accepting a wide range of recyclables that include many foodservice packaging items.

City staff currently collects residents’ 64 or 96-gallon carts and brings materials to city-owned local transfer station.  The city also collects source separated residential recyclables at a drop-off recycling center. Stamford works hard to increase their recycling rate which currently sits at 32 percent as of 2015 (52 percent including yard waste), which is well above the Connecticut’s average recycling rate of about 24 percent.

Since the City’s switch to single stream recycling in 2008, the City’s Supervisor of Recycling and Sanitation reports the city has increased the quantity of collected materials from approximately 6,000 tons to over 12,000 tons in 2016. The supervisor also estimates that approximately 2-5 percent of the total recyclables collected as part of the current recycling stream are foodservice packaging items.

Challenges

NONE! Despite accepting a particularly wide range of items, the City of Stamford has seen no issues since first accepting foodservice packaging materials in 2008.  The city has regular conversations with their facility and the staff has had no problems with contamination or large quantities of unwanted materials.

Foodservice Packaging Materials

 

Accepted in the recycling bin:

  • Aluminum foil 

  • Aluminum plates and containers

  • PET, PP and PS plates

  • PET, PP and PS cups

  • PET, PP and PS bowls

  • PET, PP and PS cutlery

  • PET, PP and PS take out-containers

  • Foam PS cups

  • Foam PS egg cartons

  • Foam PS take-out containers

  • Paper Cups

  • Paper bags

  • Paper plates

  • Paper-take out containers

  • Pizza boxes

  • Molded fiber egg cartons and beverage carriers

*Stamford Recycles accepts a wide range of items, however, all recyclable items must be clean when placed in the bin.  The City defines clean as rinsing out bottles and cans, rinsing off plates and containers and only including pizza boxes that are free of food or large amounts of grease.  

Lessons Learned & Recommendations

To cities considering accepting foodservice packaging in their recycling program, the city’s supervisor emphasizes making sure recycling is accessible to all residents’ homes and public areas such as Stamford’s installation of recycling collection toters on public streets and all parks. In addition, it is important to reach out to all residents, properly inform  the community, spread awareness and provide updates about the recycling program. The Recycling and Sanitation Department in Stamford used outreach materials such as leaflets in mail, bus stop advertisements, email blasts, educational tours of their recycling facility, as well as even a short video clip that played at the local movie theater.  Below is the movie theater advertisement the department created themselves.

The city’s supervisor recommends highlighting all updates to your program, even if they are minor. Publicizing program changes, small or large, in a local newsletter or by email will help make sure all residents of the community are properly informed.

 

- February 2017

Stamford Recycilng newsletter

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

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