Are Pizza Boxes Recyclable?

We all try to do our part to protect the environment. In today’s world, the importance of being green has never been higher – with our knowledge of the climate emergency and what we can do to help, some things as basic as recycling can be a massive help. 

Problem for us is, we simply don’t know what exactly can be recycled sometimes. We pretty much agree that cans can be recycled after being rinsed, but what about pizza boxes?

Can’t exactly rinse cardboard off now, can you? 

People tell you that they can’t be recycled because they’re greasy, then you hear that they can and it drives you nuts! 

So – what’s the truth? We’re going to take a look. Slice by slice we’ll explore the reality of recycling and answer: are pizza boxes recyclable?

America’s Pizza Love 

We love pizza. Who doesn’t right? The beautiful texture of a chunky slice of your favourite pie is possibly the most comforting food out there. 

We love pizza so much that a study showed the US places three billion pizza boxes each year on the market. That works out at over half a million tons of board!

If all the pizza boxes were recycled, it would equate to roughly two percent of the overall corrugated cardboard used in the States. Doesn’t sound a lot – but think about what you have in cardboard boxes. Millions of things! 

So, Can I Recycle A Pizza Box?!

Absolutely! It’s highly encouraged to recycle your pizza box! Too many people are confused by the assorted messages provided. Cheese and grease generally aren’t a problem in the recycling process, but larger amounts of cheese can be. This would have to be a significant amount though!

Easiest way to think of it – take a look at your pizza box after you’ve finally finished your tasty meal. How bad is it? If you’ve got chunks and chunks of cheese on there, then simply scrape it off with a knife (or your fingers!) You can now recycle it! 

Dominos have partnered with some important people in the environmental world. Their pizza box supplier West Rock and the pizza guys at Dominos have devised plans and given the public information as to the recycling process for their boxes.

Definitely important for them as pretty much everything Dominos sends to you is in a pizza box of some kind! Take a look at their guidance here. 

They’ve partnered up with the One Tree Planted people in an attempt to plant fifty thousand trees in the States per year and they’ve improved the recyclable percentage of their boxes from forty to around seventy percent. 

Why The Mixed Messages?

There’s a few reasons for this. Firstly, it’s that word of mouth can often be wrong! Somebody told somebody else that they can’t be recycled and eventually a whole group of people are throwing pizza boxes in the garbage! 

The second reason though is that according to the American Forest and Paper Association (AF&PA) pizza boxes are recyclable but not all recycling centers will take them!

This will differ from state to state and county to county – partly the reason why Dominos felt it necessary to create a webpage full of guidance. No wonder it’s so confusing! 

A third reason is that even the most environmentally minded folk are divided on the subject. Stanford University’s center for recycling is adamant that the pulping process is far too difficult to separate the fibers of paper and the oils.

With leftover food, this can highly contaminate the recycling process. 

In fact, in 2018 – China refused to take some recyclables from America due to how contaminated they were. 

Is There Another Way? 

If you can recycle pizza boxes in your area, you should absolutely do that. However, if for any reason your local recycling center refuses to do so, then there is an alternative to the garbage can. That is composting! 

Composting is the process where a natural material will decompose over time. The resulting compost can be used for a fertilizer as it is full of nutrients and minerals.

Due to its amazing properties, it is often referred to as black gold. 

Normally it would take a long time for certain materials to decompose, but in a compost heap – the surrounding bacteria and things such as worms or bugs will quicken the process up.

You should check in your area if there is a large facility for composting. If there’s not, you can compost at home, but it will take longer depending on the size of your heap and how many pizzas you’re putting away! 

Composting is probably the best alternative to recycling. NCSU actually set up a program for composting and in one year, they managed to get rid of 8,700 boxes. 

Other Benefits Of Composting 

Besides the fact you can get rid of your unwanted waste, it works as a cheaper alternative to landfill and helps the environment! It costs the States around fifty bucks a ton to landfill waste, so the less waste we produce – the less costly to us overall!

Not to mention, due to demand – we also fork out billions for waste management services.

Composting can also cut down on methane emissions, which cause the planet to heat up and assist in global warming.

When we put compostable waste into landfill services, anaerobic decomposition occurs which results in half methane and half carbon dioxide. 

The sad truth is that only around six percent of things that can be composted, actually go into composting. If those of us who cannot recycle pizza boxes decided to use composting – we could save water, reduce methane and reduce waste.

This could improve the planet’s health and improve our wallet, if we can save money in the process! 

And, as we’ve seen – the result of composting is a natural fertilizer for your yard or for farmers. Black gold is there to be made! 

So, yes – you can recycle pizza boxes, but some places will not accept them.