GRN Recycle Talk FAQ
Answer

From: Fred Friedman (FRIEDMAN.FRED@EPAMAIL.EPA.GOV)
Date: Wed Jan 08 1997 - 05:25:00 EST


Date: Wed, 8 Jan 97 10:25 WET
From: FRIEDMAN.FRED@EPAMAIL.EPA.GOV (Fred Friedman)
Subject: Re: Recycling paper plates   utensils (E. Cummings)

January 8, 1997

Dear E. Cummings,

According to the US EPA and, among others, the State of Vermont, the use of any disposable cafeteria plates, cups, tableware is less environmentally desireable and less cost-effective than using reuseable silverware/plates. A 1989 Vermont Dept. of Environmental Conservation study showed the costs this way:
  Best case: disposables cost $22,953 per year to serve 200 meals/day
              reuseables cost$15,965
              reuseable plates, disposable silverware cost $17,978

  Worst case: disposables cost $30,171
              reuseables cost $19,650
              reuseable plates, disposable silverware cost $19,650

This counts all labor, water, detergent, dishwaster, septage costs for reuseables.

To your question, can you recycle something someone has eaten off of? the answer for a normal person and for recyclable paper/plastic ware is yes you can .
The restriction that I think that you are referring to has to do with packaging that comes into direct contact with food, where in most cases, it must be recycled fully, not just reused after cleaning. This is the policy of the Food Drug Administration. However, I have recently heard of some (unknown by me) changes to that rule if you choose to investigate this.

Good luck with expanding your school recycling program.

Sincerely,

The Research Library for RCRA,
US EPA-New England



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