Industry Articles

WestRock Company, provider of differentiated paper and packaging solutions, announced it will begin accepting mixed paper bales that contain paper foodservice packaging at its 100 percent recycled paperboard mills across the United States.

Historically, paper-based foodservice packaging, which includes items such as single-use cups, takeout cartons and pizza boxes, has not been widely accepted in recycling programs due to concerns over polymer coatings and food contamination. However, as paper mill pulping and cleaning systems have evolved, so has the ability to accept types of foodservice packaging.

WestRock’s recycled paperboard mill in St. Paul, Minn., which produces 100 percent recycled content paperboard, conducted a trial in 2017 accepting poly-coated foodservice packaging during regular production. The company’s recycling facilities in Chattanooga, Tenn., and Louisville, Ky., also began accepting foodservice packaging in their residential recycling collection in fall 2017. In both trial situations, there was no disruption to the company’s operations from the addition of poly-coated foodservice packaging, according to WestRock.

The company also pointed out that foodservice packaging is a source of high-quality virgin fiber and can add value to residential mixed paper by improving fiber strength and yield. Residential mixed paper averages about 65 percent fiber yield and foodservice packaging typically averages more than 90 percent yield, added WestRock.

“In order for communities to accept foodservice packaging into their residential recycling programs, they need a place to send it,” said DJ Vandeusen, senior vice president of WestRock’s Recycling business, in a statement. “WestRock can now take this packaging and turn it into new, usable products.”

“WestRock is leading the way in demonstrating the recyclability of foodservice packaging and that it provides a valuable source of fiber to paper mills,” said Lynn Dyer, president of the Foodservice Packaging Institute, of which WestRock is a member, in a statement. “We look forward to partnering with WestRock to raise awareness of the recyclability of cups, containers, boxes and bags.”

WestRock mills accepting foodservice packaging are: Aurora, Ill.; Battle Creek, Mich.; Chattanooga, Tenn.; Dallas; Eaton, Ind.; Missisquoi, Vt.; Saint Paul, Minn.; and Stroudsburg, Pa.