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Can you recycle your pizza box?


Are pizza boxes recyclable?

True or False: You can recycle your cardboard pizza box. If you chose True you’re correct! If you chose False you’re also correct! Let me explain: Most people in my quick office poll did not know this, but if your pizza box has cheese, grease or pepperoni on it, it cannot be recycled as it’s considered a contaminant in the recycling process. Recycling plants process cardboard and other paper in a slurry of water and if you introduce grease, it doesn’t allow the paper to separate, which ruins the whole batch.

“The oil gets in when you’re doing your process of making paper,” said Terry Gellenbeck, a solid waste administrative analyst for the City of Phoenix. “The oil causes great problems for the quality of the paper, especially the binding of the fibers. It puts in contaminants, so when they do squeeze the water out, it has spots and holes.”

So what should you do with your dirty pizza boxes? Well if the lid is clean, you can tear that off from the bottom and recycle that portion and put the greasy part in your trash. Some people suggest may suggest adding it to your compost, but the oils and food could cause rot, which attracts pests. Your best bet is to make pizza at home and create less waste, but for those times when you just need delivery be aware of what you’re trying to recycle. The same doesn’t apply for plastic or glass recycling as the heat involved in this process burns off any contaminants. But be mindful of the paper that you recycle since all recyclable paper has the same issue with contamination.

Learn more at these sites:
Can You Recycle Pizza Boxes? Kinda Sorta Maybe…
The Pizza Box Mystery
Recycling 101: Soiled Recyclables

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Ruthann Hendrickson
Ruthann Hendrickson(@ruthykay)
6 years ago

Good clarification!

Leslie Martinez
Leslie Martinez(@lesmtz)
6 years ago

Yeah, now I know I can recycle the top and trash the bottom. Good to know!

Amy Hepfner
Amy Hepfner(@amylmh)
6 years ago

Thanks….I didn’t know this but will be more diligent now.

Hope Beach
Hope Beach(@hbeach)
6 years ago

Good to know!

Stephanie Cosgrove
Stephanie Cosgrove(@seac14)
6 years ago

Interesting. I did not know this – good to note.

sarah Brown
sarah Brown(@bobbinseed)
5 years ago

Never thought about it, but thanks again for the info!

Stacy Lapso
Stacy Lapso(@stacy-lapso)
5 years ago

SO many people don’t know this. Spread the word, folks!

Gingi Freeman
Gingi Freeman(@domesticgeekgirl)
4 years ago

I had NO idea! Thank you so much for sharing!