South Dakota MRF adds paper cups
While sleeves are welcome in Millennium's paper cup recycling program, plastic lids are not.

South Dakota MRF adds paper cups

Millennium Recycling of Sioux Falls, South Dakota, partners with the Foodservice Packaging Institute.

February 21, 2019

A partnership with the Foodservice Packaging Institute (FPI), Falls Church, Virginia, has allowed material recovery facility (MRF) operator Millennium Recycling Inc., Sioux Falls, South Dakota, to add paper cups to its list of acceptable recyclables.

“We are committed to giving our customers in Sioux Falls, Yankton, Huron, southwest Minnesota and beyond the opportunity to provide a new life for recycled cups—not just send them to the landfill,” says Shannon Dwire, president of Millennium Recycling.

Roughly 600,000 tons of paper beverage cups are used each year in the United States, Millennium says, with the majority of this material ending up in landfills ad they were once thought to be unrecyclable because of their plastic lining, which insulates the cup and prevents leaks. However, a growing number of mills recognize that these cups are a source of high-quality fiber and are recycling them into new products, including tissue, boxes and pulp to make new cups, the company adds.

"The team at FPI is working with us on communication efforts," says Marissa Begley, who handles marketing and communications for Millennium Recycling. She adds that FPI also is supporting the company with new social media messaging.

"Other than that, no equipment or process changes have been implemented at Millennium," Begley says. 

Each year, Millennium Recycling processes about 50,000 tons of recyclables, such as plastic bottles, metal cans, glass jars, paper and cardboard. The company will send its cups and other paper items will be sent to mills that include WestRock in St. Paul, Minnesota, where they will be turned into 100 recycled paperboard for packaging. This WestRock mill is one of more than a dozen mills in the U.S. and Canada that have committed to recycling paper cups.

“At FPI, our work is ongoing with communities, recycling facilities and end markets to expand the opportunities to collect, process and recycle foodservice packaging,” says Lynn Dyer, FPI president. “Domestic markets for recovered materials are critical for successful recycling, and we congratulate Millennium Recycling and WestRock for playing a large role in getting more paper cups and paper take-out containers recycled.”

To recycle the cups, Millennium asks residents to remove all lids, straws and stirrers and place them in the trash. Cup sleeves may be left on the cup. Paper take-out containers also may be recycled if clean and empty.

To read additional coverage from Recycling Today on paper cup recycling, see “Paper cup recycling: Rhetoric or reality?” and “Going Deeper,” which looks at WestRock’s efforts to use this material.