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Study reports encouraging results for recycling food-service packaging

By: Jim Johnson

November 26, 2013

Food-service packaging, long considered difficult to recycle due to contamination, might not be so challenging after all.

A small study of one ton of randomly selected curbside recyclables in Boston, including plastics, showed encouraging results, according to the Foodservice Packaging Institute.

But the Falls Church, Va.-based trade group also cautioned there is more work to do beyond this initial study.

The study examined the levels of food residue on a variety of food service packaging, including plastic lids and tubs, corrugated and mixed paper, aluminum cans and foils and pans, the group said.

“The results were very encouraging,” said FPI President Lynn M. Dyer in a statement. “The recycling samples were found to be exceptionally clean, and showed no appreciable difference in the amount of contamination between food-service packaging and food-contact packaging.”

“At least from this initial study, it looks like food contamination may be a perceived barrier, and not a real one. However we must also take this into perspective and consider this sample as only representative of the Boston area. No doubt, there’s more work to be done,” Dyer said.