Lamb Weston announces the result of a successful partnership with Graphic Packaging International Inc. (GPI)—Environmentally-friendly packaging which is recyclable in the established Old Corrugated Container (OCC) and mixed paper recycling streams.

“At Lamb Weston, we’re committed to finding new and innovative ways to help our operators reduce waste, cut costs and ensure everyone is doing their part to protect the environment,” says Deb Dihel, Vice President of Innovation for Lamb Weston. “The optimized Tite-Pak packaging will reduce the environmental impacts of our product packaging by enabling the diversion of this material to be recycled in an already established recycling stream, with no increased cost to the operator.”

Lamb Weston’s packaging engineering team has been working to help customers meet their sustainability goals, and fry bags have been identified as a primary target for reducing waste going to landfills. Lamb Weston officials say that implemented at full capacity, the new Tite-Pak recyclable institutional french fry bag packaging initiative has the potential to divert up to 30-million pounds of packaging material from the landfill to the recycling stream annually.

According to the EPA, the diversion of 30 million pounds of paper waste per year corresponds to more than 250,000 trees, 105 million gallons of water, 5 million gallons of oil, and 49,000 cubic yards of landfill space, with a reduction of more than 60 million kW energy.

“The opportunity to remark with confidence that our Tite-Pak packaging can actually be recycled at the operator level sets the tone for a new standard of sustainability focused initiatives across our organization and the industry,” says Dihel.

Working alongside GPI, Lamb Weston developed, qualified and optimized recyclable Tite-Pak (Kraft) institutional french fry bag material. The process included material qualification at Lamb Weston plants, Fibre Box Association (FBA) certification for repulpability, OCC batch digester testing at GPI Santa Clara, continuous digester testing at KapStone Longview, and laboratory testing at International Paper to qualify Tite-Pak repulpability in the mixed paper stream.

Upon completion, Tite-Pak exceeded FBA’s repulpability standard (80 percent recoverable fiber), with an 89 percent recoverable fiber content. Pilot studies at Michigan State and Washington State Universities were also conducted to prove the practical application on a small scale.

“Michigan State University Surplus Store and Recycling Center has a goal of increasing our waste diversion rate to 70 percent by the end of 2017,” says Carla Iansiti, Residential and Hospitality Services Sustainability Officer at Michigan State University. “Incorporating the fry bag into our existing recycling stream allows us to reduce the amount of material sent to the landfill, which results in increased diversion and recycling rates.”

“Lamb Weston and Graphic Packaging are bringing us one step closer to our goal by creating a product that with minimal effort allows Washington State University to divert an item traditionally headed to the landfill to the recycling stream,” says Jason Sampson, Assistant Director, Environmental Health & Safety at Washington State University. “This has been without a doubt, a positive change with very minimal effort.”