Generated Materials Recovery

Distribution Centers: Food Service

In 2017, almost 40.1 million tons of recycled municipal solid waste were containers and packaging materials. Many of these materials come from distribution center processes in the food service industry. 

During its daily operations, a distribution center manufactures various packaging and containers for its products. Any materials that are not used for packaging becomes scrap materials. As these materials pile up, a distribution center will need to find an appropriate recycling solution for its waste. 

Keep reading to learn more about food service distribution center recycling and Generated Materials Recovery’s unique recycling solutions. 

Food Service Distribution Center Recycling: How it Works

Common Materials Recycled in the Industry

The most common types of recyclable materials produced by food service distribution centers are the following: 

  • Old Corrugated Cardboard (OCC)
  • Stretch film plastic
  • Expanded polystyrene (EPS foam)

The cardboard materials produced by food service distribution centers typically come from packaging. The type of cardboard packaging used to transport products is known as corrugated cardboard. In 2017, 12.2% of the total municipal solid waste produced consisted of corrugated cardboard

Another common material seen from food service distribution centers is stretch film plastic. This stretch film plastic is used to transport food service products on a pallet. Distribution centers use stretch film materials made of linear low-density polyethylene or LLDPE

Expanded polystyrene or EPS foam is also used by food service distribution centers when packaging materials. When a distribution center transports products in cardboard boxes, it can also use EPS foam blocks to protect the products. EPS foam can also be found in certain food service products such as foam cups. 

Preparing Food Service Distribution Center Materials for Recycling

The first step in preparing your scrap materials for recycling is sorting each material by grade.

After you’ve separated your materials into individual grades, you can begin preparing them for recycling. The process used to prepare a recyclable depends on the type of material. 

Cardboard scrap materials are fed into a compactor. When preparing your plastic and foam materials, you must use a baler or densifier. Overall, your goal is to reduce the amount of space these materials take up when sent to a recycling facility. 

Generated Materials Recovery’s Food Service Distribution Center Recycling Services 

For over two decades, Generated Materials Recovery (GMR) has created unique waste management solutions for manufacturing and industrial organizations.  

Materials that GMR Can Recycle 

The GMR team has experience recycling a variety of cardboard, plastic and foam materials from food service distribution centers. 

Some grades of the materials that GMR has handled in the past include: 


  • Old corrugated cardboard
  • Cardboard cores 
  • Cardboard from manufacturing and distribution operations 


  • Linear low-density polyethylene (LLDPE), which comes from plastic stretch film
  • Reground and reprocessed plastic
  • Plastic with various levels of impurities 


  • Expanded polystyrene (EPS foam) and other post-industrial prime foam
  • Post-industrial consumer foam, which is foam recycled after its intended end-use
  • Polyurethane foam 

These are just a few examples of the different types of materials that GMR can recycle from food service distribution centers. Regardless, clients are encouraged to contact GMR to learn about recycling solutions for any material grade or type. 

Material Collection and Transportation Equipment 

GMR understands that waste and recycling is not a core part of your business. When transporting your scrap materials, GMR prioritizes flexibility by offering clients recyclable collection and transportation equipment. 

GMR uses on-site collection equipment, such as vertical and horizontal balers, densifiers, and compactors, to prepare your materials. Once your materials are ready for collection, they are collected in GMR’s receiver boxes, tilt toppers and staged trailers. Then, GMR uses roll-off trucks to collect your materials and transport them to GMR’s recycling facility. 

Contact Us