Global GreenGlobal Green USA’s Coalition for Resource Recovery

Food Packaging

Our Goal

The food packaging goal is to recycle paper cups and foodservice packaging into valuable, high-quality materials. Every year, 5.7 million tons of paper, prepared food packaging is landfilled in the United States. The collection and recycling of this material would decrease greenhouse gas emissions by ~15 million mtCO2e, equivalent to removing 3 million passenger vehicles from the road.[1]

Success Stories

RUNNING TOWARD RECYCLING: Largest Cross Country Meet in the U.S. Partners with Global Green USA to Pilot Paper Cup Recycling Initiative; Reduce CO2 Emissions

September 1, 2015 (Los Angeles, CA) — National environmental non-profit Global Green USA is teaming up with the largest cross country meet in the United States, the Portage Invite in Portage, Michigan, to put recyclable paper cups to the test, both for performance and for recyclability at a local paper mill. Using cups developed by Coalition for Resource Recovery (CoRR) member LBP Manufacturing that have passed a recyclability protocol developed by CoRR member Western Michigan University (WMU), Global Green USA will coordinate their use, collection and recycling at a paper mill in Kalamazoo, MI operated by Graphic Packaging.


The successful recovery and recycling of these cups will represent a key step in identifying best systems for keeping valuable paper fiber in the market as high-quality products, and out of landfills. Unlike many other paper sources, such as newsprint and magazines, foodservice packaging is a growing stream but seldom recovered for recycling. According to the EPA, 5.6 million tons of food service packaging is landfilled in the US each year, releasing greenhouse gas emissions equivalent to six coal-fired power plants. Since 2009, Global Green’s Coalition for Resource Recovery (CoRR) program has been working to divert these valuable materials into new products.

See the full press release here.

Reimaging the School Lunch Tray in New York City

In the 2013 Fall semester, Global Green USA and Parsons the New School for Design held a class focused on re-designing New York City school lunch trays. With over 830,000 lunch trays sent to landfill each school day in NYC, the challenge is: Can we transform trays currently made from unrecoverable expanded polystyrene foam into aesthetically pleasing, functional, recyclable, and compostable lunch trays? Read more

Tour of United Corrstack Pulp Mill in Reading, PA

forklift with OCC bales

CoRR team members toured Interstate Resources’ United Corrstack pulp mill – a mill that accepts paper coffee cups as a part of a larger mix of inputs (the primary feedstock for the mill is OCC). The goal of the trip was to see first-hand how the process works and how foodservice packaging fits as an input for their end-products.

Click on the photo to view a slide show.


Pret A Manger Post-Consumer Material Passes WMU Recyclability and Repulpability Test for Brown Tissue Applications

At the 2012 TAPPI PEERS conference, Global Green and Western Michigan University presented the results of the first recyclability and repulpability test with post-consumer material using WMU's newly developed protocol to assess a material's usability as an input for tissue and towel applications. The post-consumer paper foodservice packaging passed the test, indicating that it could be a valuable input for manufacturing brown tissue products. This helps to support the case that this material could be diverted from landfills in larger quantities, and utilized as an input for new paper products.


Global Green Releases Pret A Manger Waste Characterization Results

Approximately one year after the deployment of Pret A Manger's pioneering front- and back-of-house system for composting and recycling, Global Green undertook a waste characterization to assess the program's success. The findings detail the stream quality and capture rates of the four-stream front-of-house bin system, which includes paper recycling, plastic and aluminum recycling, food scraps, and trash, as well as Pret's back-of-house food donation, recycling and composting programs. For more detail, CoRR members can download the full report here. The Executive Summary, including key findings, is available to the public here.

Using the data collected through the waste characterization, Global Green also developed an analysis of the greenhouse gas impacts of composting all paper packaging as opposed to collecting it separately for recycling. For the results of the analysis, click here.


Global Green Calls for Quick Service Restaurants to Participate
in a New York City Recycling Pilot to Inform the Design of National Recycling Solutions

Pret A Manger Announces 25 of Its Stores Will Participate;
CleanRiver to Donate Up to 150 Recycling Bins to Facilitate Pilo

Global Green is seeking quick service restaurants looking to be greener to participate in a 150 store pilot in New York City. The pilot project will inform the design of a cost effective, national recycling solution for foodservice packaging.
Read more >

Global Green Presents Status of Foodservice Packaging Recycling Initiatives
at Walmart's Sustainable Packaging Value Network Meeting.

Global Green presented on the status of it foodservice packaging recycling initiatives
at Walmart's Sustainable Packaging Value Network Meeting. Please click here to download the presentation.

Pret A Manger Launches First Recycling Pilot to Go Beyond the Cup

Pret A Manger launched a 3-store, eight week pilot to recycle its sandwich and salad boxes, soup containers, coffee cups, and bottles and cans. While recycling coffee cups and beverage containers previously have been piloted, this is the first pilot to recycle a range of paper food packaging items.


Pratt bins






Pret A Manger worked with Western Michigan University to pre-screen its salad and sandwich boxes, soup/oatmeal containers and lids, and coffee cups for recyclability and repulpability with respect to Old Corrugated Cardboard. Working with Clean River, Pret A Manger developed a three bin recycling system for paper packaging, metals and plastics, and trash. Materials are collected by Action Carting. For future pilots, Pret A Manger hopes to include more paper packaging types, and compost kitchen food waste.

Please visit one of the participating Manhattan stores at: Union Square (857 Broadway (@17th St), 135 W 50th St between 6th & 7th Ave, 101 Maiden Lane @ Pearl St.

For more information, please download frequently asked questions for the pilot.

Starbucks, International Paper, Demonstrate Successful Cup-to-Cup Recycling

Starbucks Coffee Company and International Paper, with Mississippi River Pulp, LLC., completed a six-week pilot project that – for the first time – proved Starbucks used paper cups can be recycled into new paper cups. Learn more.

Global Green Presents Status of Foodservice Packaging Recycling Initiatives
at Paper Stock Industries' Conference

Global Green presented on the status of it foodservice packaging recycling initiatives
at Paper Stock Industries' Conference in West Palm Beach, FL. Please click here to download the presentation.

Starbucks & Action Carting Environmental Services Inc. Conduct 86-Store Paper Cup Recycling Pilot in New York City

Starbucks Coffee Company, with Action Carting Environmental Services Inc., conducted a paper cup recycling pilot program at 86 of its New York City stores this fall. The pilot leveraged a recycling model developed through Global Green’s Coalition for Resource Recovery, of which Starbucks and Action Carting are members.
Learn more

Pratt Institute Develops Prototype Messaging & Bins to Incorporate Food Packaging RecyclingPratt bins

Informed by the Starbucks test, Pratt Institute developed prototype bins and educational strategies which were piloted at The New School in the Spring of 2010. The consumer education strategies tested included: educational posters, table top informational toys, and completely redesigned trash, plastic bottle/aluminum can/glass bottle, mixed paper, and paper cup bins with lollipop eye-level signage.

Duro Bag's Prototype Paper Bin Liner Passes Recyclability Lab Tests & Demonstrated at CoRR Meeting

Duro Bag has developed a paper bin liner for the collection and recycling of spent paper food packaging with Old Corrugated Cardboard. The bag and its contents would be bailed with OCC and sent directly to the paper mill without sorting. At the March CoRR meeting, Duro bag demonstrated the prototype. In April, the bin liner passed the recyclability and repulpabiliyt tests conducted by Western Michigan University.


Post-Consumer Hot Cup Recyclability Lab Results Indicate Increased Strength without Compromising Operations

Material collected during the 2009 Starbucks pilot was held for three months and tested by Western Michigan University using the FBA Wax Alternative Protocol. Results indicated that test material provides benecifial performance properties with respect to old corrugated cardboard when recycled in a containerboard mill.

Download: WMU Presentation on Repulpabiliy and Recyclability of Post-Consumer Hot Cups and Sleeves

Foodservice Recycling Pilot Held at Seven Starbucks Stores in Manhattan:
Results Indicate that with Appropriate Signage and Messaging, 90% Purity is a Realistic Target

An eight week pilot was conducted at seven Starbucks stores in Manhattan in the Fall of 2009. For the pilot, Western Michigan University’s Coating and Recycling Pilot Plants tested the recyclability of a
representative sample of the cups and sleeved used in Starbucks stores and found that they offer
equivalent recyclability and repulpability as old corrugated cardboard using the Fibre Box
Association's Wax Alternative Protocol. The material collected from the store had a purity level greater than 80% was acheived and strategies for achieving a 90% purity identified. Learn more.

Starbucks Announces Participation in Global Green Recycling Pilot at June CoRR Meeting

Global Green’s Coalition for Resource Recovery, convened 80 participants for a “value chain caucus” aimed at diverting prepared food packaging from the nation’s landfills. The Manhattan meeting followed a Recyclable Cup Summit arranged by Starbucks at their Seattle headquarters in May. Starbucks’ Jim Hanna announced that a first trial will ask customers to assist by pre-sorting their cups. Learn more.

Global Green USA and Western Michigan University Release White Paper on Recycling Paper Food Packaging with Corrugated Cardboard

Global Green USA and Western Michigan University release a white paper, entitled Recycling Paper Food Packaging with Corrugated Cardboard: A Proposal for a New Recyclability and Repulpability Protocol and Preliminary Test Results for Fiber-Based Hot Cups. The paper proposes that the Fibre Box Association's Voluntary Standard for Repulping and Recycling Corrugated Fiberboard Treated to Improves its Performance in the Presence of Water and Water Vapor could be modified to pre-screen foodservice packaging for its recycling along with corrugated at containerboard mills. The paper also contains results from bench top testing of hot cups. Learn more.

Global Green Presents Foodservice Packaging Recycling Concept to Western Michigan University and Foodservice Packaging Institute

Global Green present concept for recycling foodservice paper packaging along with old corrugated cardboard. Original presentation can be downloaded here.

Our Approach

CoRR uses a phased approach, which includes pilot programs that build on one another to achieve our ultimate goal-- demonstrating the concept at scale. Each pilot contains the following components.

Step 1 - Material Pre-Screen

Paper packaging included in the pilot programs is evaluated using the Fibre Box Association's Wax Alternative protocol. The protocol test for both repulpability and recyclability of the packaging compared to old corrugated containers at containerboard mills.

Step 2 - In-Store Design

Bin design and in-store communications that encourage proper sorting by customers are tested. Our goal is a recycling stream that is at least 90% clean.

Step 3 - Collect and Divert into Highest-Value Stream

Foodservice packaging can be collected and sent to recycling mills that can accept a variety of inputs, including cardboard boxes, also known as old corrugated cardboard. Old Corrugated Cardboard is one of the most recycled materials in the U.S.

Step 4 - Recycle Material & Conduct Tests

Material is recycled and testing is conducted to determine the most valuable end products and inform future packaging designs.

How to Get Involved

  • Join the Coalition. Contact us at for more information.