Non-profit organization Global Green USA announced that it is seeking quick-serve restaurants in New York City to participate in a sustainable packaging recycling program.
The pilot program, which is slated to run for a year and launch in late 2011, is aiming to secure 150 quick-serve stores and test the viability of recycling paper foodservice packaging.
Annie White, director of Global Green USA’s New York office and of the Coalition for Resource Recovery—a group of companies working with Global Green USA to fight climate change and turn waste into assets—says the organization is looking for both national quick serves and uniquely New York quick serves to participate in the program.
“Our thought is that by having a diversity, that will help the whole concept gain critical mass, and for us to better understand the variations and what we’d expect to see,” White says.
As part of the pilot program, Global Green USA will work with participants to determine which of their packaging materials would fit with the test. The organization would then help that quick serve install appropriate recycling bins and train it and its employees in the recycling process.
The material recycled through the pilot program would be used for mill, collection, and sorting tests and will help design a cost-effective national solution for recycling foodservice packaging products.
Global Green USA has previously completed tests with Starbucks and international quick-serve chain Pret A Manger. But while those tests were limited to less than 10 stores over an eight-week period, White says the program must be expanded to prove its viability.
“What we’ve learned is the opportunity to recycle paper packaging in stores is really promising, and what we’re needing to do now is to prove out this concept at scale,” White says.
“Our thought here is if that if we increase the numbers and use the same approach and model for collecting the material and testing it, that we can work out some of those specific research questions that need to be answered, and ultimately come up with a solution that could work for markets New York City and outside of New York City.”
Pret A Manger will continue to participate in the Global Green USA program, as 25 of its New York City stores will kick off the program in the fall.
Quick serves interested in participating in the Global Green USA program can find more information on the Coalition for Resource Recovery’s website. Participants will be asked to become members of the Coalition for a year, as dues are used to help fund the program.
White is confident this New York pilot program will help design a recycling infrastructure for many other cities across the U.S.
“If we’re fully successful in identifying mills that except this material and we can deliver it to them in a way that’s cost effective … then essentially we’ll help to get those results out, disseminate those results to other mills and communities, and I think the pilot will no longer be in pilot state—it can be commercialized,” she says.
By Sam Oches