A Chattanooga Public Works crew delivers blue recycling containers in the St. Elmo neighborhood Wednesday, Oct. 15, 2014, in Chattanooga, Tenn.

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For more information on Chattanooga’s curbside recycling program, call 311 or 423-643-6311 or go online at


Starting Monday, Chattanoogans can do even more curbside recycling.

The Chattanooga Department of Public Works and a host of its recycling program partners on Friday announced the city now accepts a wide assortment of food packaging items. The rules are pretty simple: just make sure those pulp fiber drink carriers, paper plates and plastic takeout containers are clean before tossing them in the big blue recycling bins.

Jeanette Eigelsbach, director of Scenic Cities Beautiful, gave a short demonstration at a news conference at the department's 11th Street office building.

"We encourage all residents who are preparing their recycling for curbside pickup to make sure that the items are clean and free of food waste and liquid," Eigelsbach said.

Even cardboard pizza boxes have the green light for recycling pickup, so long as they don't contain leftover crusts and globs of cheese, she said. Greasy spots are all right.

Justin Holland, public works administrator, praised the new curbside offering.

"This just expands what we do now," Holland said. "Our citizens really appreciate the opportunity to make curbside recycling more efficient, more effective and more convenient, which is always the biggest hurdle to getting citizens to recycle."

Officials with WestRock, the company that handles recyclables picked up by the city, offered insights on why they have pursued the recycling of food service packaging.

People are on the go more than ever, so there's going to be more food service packaging, said Rhea Hale, director of public policy for WestRock. However, research shows people tend not to dispose of the waste while they are out and about.

The largest share of that is in the home, which may not be intuitive, she said.

"By adding this to the curbside system, that's our greatest chance for diverting this away from the landfill into a sustainable recycling facility."

Hale described the new initiative as "groundbreaking."

Holland said he expects recycling volume to increase. Not only will the service expansion boost volumes by current curbside recycling participants, but the rollout of the program expansion likely will boost service requests, he said.

Contact staff writer Paul Leach at 423-757-6481 or pleach@times Follow him on Twitter @pleach_tfp.