Foodservice Packaging Institute launches recovery toolkit

The Foodservice Packaging Institute (FPI) has launched a new website and recovery toolkit in a move to help restaurant operators decrease the levels of packaging products in community landfills. The Foodservice Packaging Recovery Toolkit provides free resources for recovering foodservice packaging through recycling or composting, thanks to a multi-year effort with input from restaurant industry stakeholders such as the National Restaurant Association (NRA).

The toolkit outlines five tips restaurant operators can implement to recycle or compost their packaging products and was developed by FPI’s Paper Recovery Alliance and Plastics Recovery Group. For communities, material recovery facilities and end markets, the toolkit highlights studies done by the PRA and PRG, and maps out potential end markets for recycled material and shares case studies of successful foodservice packaging recovery.

For foodservice operators, and with help from the NRA, another section was developed that offers step-by-step guidance for implementing an in-store recycling and/or composting program. Resources include free downloadable and customizable forms and templates, educational videos and a first-of-its-kind map highlighting recycling and composting policies that may impact foodservice operators in the U.S. and Canada. An additional section, currently under development, will be geared toward operators of composting and anaerobic digestion facilities.

FPI president Lynn Dyer said the toolkit is important because it will encourage restaurant operators and consumers to recycle or compost packaging products that ultimately end up in landfills. Additionally, it will act as a guide to help operators who are looking at sustainability or environmental awareness solutions. This is because the toolkit provides the necessary steps operators can take to recover some of those materials, she said.

The toolkit and recovery solutions become a bit more complicated for catering, takeout and delivery packaging. Once these items leave the store it becomes nearly impossible to determine if they ended up in the trash, a recycling bin or compost. For off-premise restaurant sales in which packaging leaves the store, the toolkit recommends working with community recycle programs and business establishments to make sure those materials are recovered. Operators also could make the decision to use a biodegradable packaging solution if other alternatives fail to exist.

Dyer said as it stands, close to 70 percent of all food service waste happens in the back of house and the recovery toolkit is another way operators can reduce that waste and its impact on the environment.

“The question for catering executives is if an item leaves the store, how does it get recovered because the largest piece of pie ends up back in the home,” Dyer said. “So from a catering standpoint, where there are commercial establishments or office buildings, it’s about operators finding out how many of those have recycling programs for packaging types of items. That’s what we would love to see happen.”

The FPI offers a free membership to restaurant operators and distributors who are interested in packaging trends and industry updates.

“We want to offer our services and help where we can. With the click of a button, I can send an RFP out to the industry because we represent the vast majority. We’re happy to help out with those kinds of things,” Dyer said.

For more information on FPI’s recovery efforts, contact FPI Vice President Natha Dempsey at

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