Skip to Content Skip to Content

Memphis Introduces Curbside Paper Cup Recycling

Memphis Introduces Curbside Paper Cup Recycling

Expanded recycling program increases recycling for more than 182,000 households

Memphis, TN (June 1, 2023) — Curbside recycling carts across the city of Memphis will welcome even more recyclables beginning Thursday, June 1. Thanks to a partnership with the Foodservice Packaging Institute (FPI), over 182,000 households will be able to recycle clean and empty paper cups. With this move, Memphis joins a growing trend of communities adding paper cups to their residential recycling programs. 

“It’s exciting to be a part of this incredible initiative aimed at expanding recycling programs and include paper cups in our list of acceptable materials. Through this partnership, we are now able to offer our community a valuable opportunity to conserve resources and reduce the amount of waste ending up in landfills,” said Philip Davis, Solid Waste Director for the City of Memphis. 

Memphis will launch an outreach campaign to inform residents of what is recyclable through the expanded program and remind them that all recyclables should be clean and empty when placed in their recycling carts. With support from a communications grant from FPI, the campaign will feature social media posts, print and digital advertisements, and an updated recycling flyer. Residents will learn about the wide range of take-out packaging they can place in their recycling carts including clean and empty pizza boxes, paper bags, plastic cups and containers, aluminum foil and cans, molded fiber containers and paper cups. To prepare products for recycling, residents are asked to empty any remaining liquid, toss the lid in the trash, and place their cups loose in recycling carts or drop-off bins. 

The city will kick off the campaign on June 1 with a press conference at the Mud Island Recycling Drop-off Center at noon. Attendees will be treated to free coffee from Crazy Gander Coffee, served in paper cups that can be recycled. The first 35 attendees will also receive a gift card for Crazy Gander Coffee. The event will be a great opportunity to learn about sustainable practices and residents are encouraged to attend. 

“We’re delighted to team up with the city of Memphis to ramp up its recycling efforts. By accepting paper cups into the residential recycling program and doing outreach to the community, we hope to communicate the importance of recycling foodservice packaging items,” said Natha Dempsey, president of the Foodservice Packaging Institute. “We actually started our very first community partnership in Tennessee back in 2017, so returning to the state to expand our efforts is especially meaningful to us.” 

The city sends its collected recyclables to Republic’s materials recovery facility in Memphis, where the cups are recovered and baled with other paper to be converted into new products, diverting waste from landfills and advancing the circular economy. 

To learn more about Memphis’ recycling initiative and see a list of all acceptable curbside recyclables, visit