Kent County recycling program now accepts paper cups

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Kent County has become one of a growing number of Michigan communities to add paper cups to its recycling program, thanks to a partnership with the Foodservice Packaging Institute.

Kent County residents are encouraged to empty and rinse their paper coffee and soda cups, and place them in their recycling cart or drop them off at one of the county’s recycling centers.

“Kent County is committed to reducing landfill waste by 90% by 2030,” said Kristen Wieland, communications and marketing manager for the Kent County Department of Public Works. “FPI’s 2020 grant helps us educate our community to participate in paper cup recycling and ensure that paper cups are clean and empty before recycling.”

Until recently, the plastic lining that coats the rim and inside of the cup prevented Kent County Recycling and Education Center from accepting these materials because the material was not accepted by paper mills that purchase recycled material.

To inform residents of its new recycling capabilities, the county will launch an outreach campaign, which will include a recycling education video and social media advertisements, as well as encouraging residents to participate in a recycling survey with a prize drawing. The campaign will highlight the addition of paper cups and also will remind residents that all recyclables should be clean and empty when placed in recycling carts and drop-off containers.

In 2019, Kent County received an education grant from FPI to promote recycling of takeout items, such as plastic cups, milk cartons and paper carryout bags already accepted in the county’s recycling program with new bilingual flyer design, trailer signs and drop-off center signage. The 2019 campaign also emphasized the importance of recycling only clean and empty materials, as leftover food and liquids in any recyclable container create costly and unsanitary problems for recycling.

“Kent County continues to show leadership in its recycling efforts by adding paper cups to its program and raising awareness of recycling other foodservice packaging items,” said Natha Dempsey, president of FPI. “The county has recognized the opportunity to recycle these valuable materials, and we hope that many communities in Michigan and across the nation follow this example.”

To learn more and see a list of all items accepted for recycling in Kent County, visit

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