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Can you put Pizza Boxes in Recycling Bins?

We have all eaten pizza, and done away with the crumbs but when the time to dispose of the box came… we have all been confused about which bin to put it in.

Cardboard boxes are one of the most recycled products in the world. However, when it comes to cardboard boxes of pizza, there has been a general confusion. Do we put the pizza boxes in recycling or not? 

The answer is: Yes! 

There are conditions to this, however, so let’s explore! 

pizza box in recycling

Why has there been confusion around the recyclability of pizza boxes?

Most of us are not sure whether to put used pizza boxes in the recycling bin or the garbage bin. Many people are skeptical about putting a pizza box in recycling due to the potential contamination it could cause.

The grease on the cardboard box, leftover pizza crust, cheese or any other food remnants which get stuck on the box may become a source of contamination. This leaves us with the question: Can pizza boxes be recycled?

How does it cause contamination?

When recycling, all cardboard boxes are turned into pulp. A bit of grease, cheese, oil, or food remnants stuck in one cardboard box has the power to ruin an entire batch. For this reason, people generally avoid putting pizza boxes in the recycling bin.

Recycling facilities all around the world report that food waste is the most common source of contamination. How does this happen?

Let us walk through the process of recycling cardboard and paper. The materials to be recycled, cardboard boxes and paper in this case, are sorted. Once the sorting is thoroughly done, the cardboard is moved into the paper mill and the cardboard pizza boxes are shredded into little pieces.

The next step is where the problem occurs when shredded pieces of cardboard are mixed with water and chemicals. If there is any grease or oil in one of the boxes, it may end up ruining the entire batch. 

Sometimes, this duo of the solvent and shredded cardboard pieces can spend days in the storage, where they may attract insects and animals. Or worse, the entire batch can turn rancid and spoil all of the mixtures.

The whole batch of the mixture may go to waste because oil does and water do not mix.  This forms a film, which is almost impossible to then separate.

Which pizza boxes are recyclable?

Pizza boxes with grease stains, crust, or cheese on them are not recyclable. This does not mean we can’t recycle some of the pizza box. Simply remove the greasy, cheesy parts of the box and throw the clean section into your recycling bin.

What should you do with boxes that have too much grease or cheese on them?

If your entire pizza box seems to have too much grease or cheese on it, don’t worry. All is not lost.

Instead of the recyclable bin, put them in a different bin: the compost bin.

Greasy pizza boxes, although not recyclable, can alway be put to good use by putting them in the compost bin. Papers, leftover food, wooden shreds, and cardboard boxes (yes, greasy ones!) can be turned into compost. 

They will provide supplements to the soil and at the same time reduce waste on the earth. Boxes with food and grease in a compost bin have the ability to disintegrate and will do so remarkably well. The soil will benefit from the nutrients and your pizza box will do more good than it will in the garage bin.

Wrap Up

Different councils have different verdicts on whether or not pizza boxes should be allowed into recycling bins. Many argue that since the main constituent of pizza boxes is cardboard, that makes them inherently recyclable.

When putting your pizza boxes in recycling, make sure all bits are free of any grease, oil, cheese, or food remnants. You do not want to spoil the whole batch with one box!

If your pizza box has too much grease or food waste stuck on it, you can easily put it in the compost bin and get it recycled another way – giving back nutrients to the Earth. 

Remember, that if soiled, that part of the pizza box is generally not recyclable. The grease and oil makes difficult to complete the recycling process.  Put the soiled part of the box in the compost bin instead.

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