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Ask Casa: Can I Recycle Pizza Boxes?

Hi Casa,
I know you always have recycling information on your site and was wondering if you could help me with a question. I always try to recycle when I can, but the other day when I was at the waste disposal center, I was throwing away a pizza box and a woman yelled at me for not recycling it. I was surprised. Are you supposed to throw pizza boxes in the recycle bin? Since it has cheese and sauce stuck to the bottom of the box, I always just threw it away. She made me feel bad, and now I am not sure what to do with them in the future. Thanks for any help you can send my way.

Thanks,
Liss

Hi Liss,

First of all, ugh! How rude! Perhaps it's just the Midwesterner in me, but I don't see why people can't just try to be nice and mind their own business. I'm sure that lady wasn't doing everything in her life super eco green, so I don't know why she felt she should pass judgment on yours. And in fact, if she is recycling her pizza boxes, all she's doing is contaminating her recycling pick up.

To hear the rest of my answer,

.
And you're right — pizza boxes can't be recycled. Since pizza boxes become soiled with grease, cheese, and other foods once the pizza has been placed in the box, the paper fibers in the box can't be separated from the oils during the recycling process.

So, my suggestion is to use your city's composting program if it has one. Composting programs will accept these boxes. If your city doesn't have a composting program, then start a compost container yourself. Just scrape the cheese off the box, and then you can put it in your backyard compost box safely. If you don't have room to compost, and you're really serious about wanting to solve this problem, then I'd see if there's a community gardening space in your community that could use them in their compost.

Thanks for inquiring!

Cheers,
Casa
Source

Join The Conversation
darkangel2305 darkangel2305 9 years
They can be recycled in my county (Lee, SW Florida) So I dont think this is one-size-fits-all answer... :ponder:
emalove emalove 9 years
My friend and I were just discussing this the other night...I said they can't be recycled, she said they could be. Gonna have to link her this article!
Home Home 9 years
Rivrchild, see this post on recycling plastics. Many plastics are not recyclable, even if they have a recycle symbol on them!
rivrchild rivrchild 9 years
I never knew that if the box was soiled with grease you shouldn't recycle it! The restaurant where we get our pizza puts a sheet of wax paper to lay the pizza on which catches most of the excess grease so hopefully those are okay. At my recycling drop-off center the only thing i've been puzzled about is the "no tubs" like the kind that Cool Whip or yogurt come in. Very odd since it has a recycling symbol on the bottom and it seems like the same plastic as ever other food item comes in. Does anyone know why this might be?
ella1978 ella1978 9 years
Rosa Dilla, that's a great idea, I'm going to have to do that next time!
KatieLake KatieLake 9 years
I live with my brother in San Francisco and with the recycling/composting programs here we've been able to reduce our trash to a bag or less a week. We recycle or compost everything. Oh and for anyone interested - there are biodegradable trash bags. We keep a large ceramic pot next to our kitchen sink with a bag to make for easy disposal.
Kate-Marie Kate-Marie 9 years
I never knew this. Interesting but good info to have. My family eats a lot of pizza. =]
ehadams ehadams 9 years
In our area of LA they they specifically list soiled pizza boxes as a no no. However if we have a frozen pizza I recycle that box since no food actually touches the box, just the container inside.
graduatedsqueaks graduatedsqueaks 9 years
I was the recycling chair in my dorm, and it drove me nuts when people tried to recycle pizza boxes, even when I informed the Dorm of the rules. For some reason, people would try to recycle those, or throw banana peels in the recycling, and then throw the comingles in the trash!
Home Home 9 years
Yes, it depends on the community! Unfortunately, big companies will say/do anything to appear "green" and it often takes a little bit of work to sort out the truth from the fiction.
mimsi mimsi 9 years
Argh, I meant that pizza boxes are recyclable.
mimsi mimsi 9 years
There's actually a pizza chain (Papa Johns) that advertises that pizza boxes are responsible, but maybe that's just a PR move on their part?
a-geek a-geek 9 years
Wow, never knew that! (and I eat a TON of pizza)
Arthur Arthur 9 years
mmmm. pizza.
Home Home 9 years
Great input, everyone! It's always safest to check the list of recyclables and compostables allowed in your city's waste management pickup. Since pizza boxes are so iffy, definitely check before tossing them in your recycling box.
MartiniLush MartiniLush 9 years
In Seattle we can also recycle pizza boxes. I think it just depends on what your local recycling center is set up to deal with.
lawchick lawchick 9 years
kiwi is right, it is different everywhere. you need to call and find out if they will take them in your area. I live in Jackson, Mississippi and they take pizza boxes here. A friend called and found out because we weren't sure.
Liss1 Liss1 9 years
Thanks Everyone :)
RosaDilia RosaDilia 9 years
What I do is I remove and trash the area soiled with cheese and grease and recycle the rest.
vholdwic vholdwic 9 years
This post is so timely. I was just out in the yard taking pix of flowers, when my husband walked by with an empty pizza box. I asked to see it. The top was free from any cheese or grease and it is perforated where connected to the bottom. I recycle cardboard by using them for covers on my handmade books. He separated the top and it is now in my craft waiting to be put to good use.
kiwitwist kiwitwist 9 years
Just to clarify it is different everywhere. Here in Ontario we can recycle pizza boxes. It specifically states them.
ella1978 ella1978 9 years
We get a seasonal newsletter from our city and it lists all things you can and can't recycle. They don't want you to recycle pizza boxes. Also, wren, we have a Phoenix coffee near us. They use styrofoam cups because they DO recycle them. I don't know if they will recycle everyone's styrofoam, but you bring your cup back and they recycle it. Pretty cool.
wren1 wren1 9 years
Thanks for clearing that up. I've heard conflicting stories about this. I wish I could recycle styrofoam! :(
Brendelwoman Brendelwoman 9 years
Yes, it was rude for her to say anything.
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