Whether it’s game night, a party, or a simple get-together – pizza is our go-to food option, isn’t it? From meat-lovers to pineapple pizzas, Pizza Hut has kept all our preferences in check. But what about our carbon footprint? Has Pizza Hut figured out a way to keep that in check, too?
Can pizza boxes be recycled? Yes and no. Although the pizza boxes are fully recyclable, the grease and cheese bits that are often left in the box can contaminate the whole lot, making the process a little tougher. Always remember to tear off the greased parts of a pizza box before putting it in a recycling bin.
If you are still confused about the recycling of pizza boxes, don’t worry. In this article, we will clarify any and all doubts you may have about the recycling criteria of different types of pizza boxes and more.
Are Pizza Boxes Recyclable?
Yes, they absolutely are. Pizza boxes are made from paper and corrugated cardboard, and almost all manufacturers have assured us that they can be recycled. However, there is a rule you need to follow if you are doing so.
Although the boxes are recyclable, those contaminated with grease and/or cheese aren’t. This is because a single greasy box can contaminate a whole batch of pizza boxes, and indeed, a whole lot of recycled material.
In fact, whenever such a box is found in a recycling bin, the whole batch is sent to a landfill, which is bad for environmental protection and sustainability.
That being said, boxes with leftover pizza in them also should not be recycled. Any and all food in these boxes should be discarded in the organics collections bin before the box is considered for recycling.
Can you recycle frozen pizza boxes?
This is a commonly asked question, and the reason is quite understandable: frozen pizza boxes are made from slightly different components. Usually, they are made out of paperboard, wax-coated cardboard, or mixed-materials packaging.
The important question is: which ones can you recycle?
Paperboard: Most frozen pizza boxes are made from poly-paperboard, also called plastic-coated paperboard. These boxes are covered with a thin layer of plastic that extends the product by preventing freezer burns, moisture leaks, and product degradation during use.
However, the use of plastic in the making of these boxes also makes it difficult to recycle them. So, before you put these boxes in the recycle bin, find out if your local haulers accept them because many of them don’t.
Mixed-material packaging: Poly-paperboard boxes are made with mixed-materials packaging. Although the materials used to make these boxes are recyclable, they are layered with plastic in such a way that it is difficult to separate them.
This is the reason why many waste-management companies do not accept frozen pizza boxes.
The companies that do accept such boxes use hydro-pulping, which is a process in which the plastic fibers are separated from the paper fibers and then recycled separately.
Wax-coated cardboard: Pizza boxes made from wax-coated cardboard is often confused with and are similar to those made from poly-coated cardboard. However, when you stretch them, wax-coated cardboard comes off easily.
Interestingly enough, some wax-coated cardboard pizza boxes are compostable, specifically the ones that are made with soybeans or beeswax. Paraffin wax, on the other hand, is a big no-no for composting.
Anyhow, frozen pizza boxes or any other poly-coated cardboard products should not be composted because of the plastic that they contain.
Points to remember when disposing of pizza boxes
If you are recycling pizza boxes for the first time and don’t know anything about it, don’t worry. In this section, we will be giving you some pointers that will help you in your environment-friendly initiative safely and correctly.
Understanding the rules:
Before recycling your pizza boxes, find out the rules and regulations about doing so in your locality. This is important because the municipality in your area may not allow the recycling of pizza boxes. In fact, they may not allow recycling waste at all.
For example, New York City allows pizza boxes in the recycle bins, but only if the soiled lining (if any) in the box is removed and discarded.
On the other hand, in Huntsville, Alabama, pizza boxes are not accepted in the recycle bins at all.
Checking your pizza boxes:
If your local haulers allow pizza boxes to be recycled, remember to check your boxes thoroughly for any greasy shots or cheesy bits.
As we have already mentioned before, any greasy leftovers in your pizza boxes can waste a significant amount of recyclable materials.
Moreover, it might take the garbage truck in your locality at least a day to extract the trash. If you put your pizza boxes in the recycle bin along with the greasy bits, it might contaminate, it will attract rodents and other stray animals.
If any parts of the pizza boxes are greasy, just cut out the whole greasy spot and only recycle the clean cardboard.
Other ways to dispose of pizza boxes
Let’s say your local municipality or garbage management center does not accept pizza boxes or does not recycle garbage at all. What will you do then?
Do you let them take pizza boxes, which are perfectly reusable and useful, to a landfill, where they will be wasted?
Well, if you want the pizza boxes to be utilized, there are a few ways other than recycling to do so. In this section, we will be discussing those alternatives.
Composting is the next best thing you can do with your pizza boxes if recycling them is not an option in your locality or your case.
With the old pizza boxes, you can also add in some food scraps, shredded paper, and wood chips. Composting will enrich the fertility of the soil and will also benefit the environment by not ending up in landfills.
All you will need to do is break up the boxes into smaller pieces, especially the greasy bits. By putting in the pizza box pieces first, you will be creating the base layer, followed by some nitrogen-rich materials, and finally, topsoil. To improve the rate of decomposition, turn your compost pile regularly.
Although we have established that greasy pizza boxes can be composted, frozen pizza boxes are still not acceptable. As we already mentioned before, frozen pizza boxes are covered with a thin layer of plastic, which can neither be recycled nor composted.
Now, you may be wondering how long it might take for the pizza boxes to decompose. Well, if you’ve done everything correctly and everything you could to make sure the conditions are favorable, a cardboard box can take about 90 days to decompose or biodegrade.
However, under inhospitable conditions (the removal of pieces from the soil or the boxes stacked tightly in sheets with little surface exposed to the elements), these boxes can take years to decompose.
The only way to get rid of frozen pizza boxes is to ask your local hauler if they accept poly-coated cardboards.
Reuse for crafts and DIYs
If you can neither decompose nor recycle them, crafting empty pizza boxes into something new and creative is also a great utilizing method.
There are a lot of YouTube tutorials and videos that will tell you the best way to use your leftover pizza boxes, using easily available crafting materials.
Below is the video attached having different interesting DIYs and craft ideas with pizza boxes.
In this article, we learned about the recycling criteria of used pizza boxes. Greasy pizza boxes with cheese residue in it cannot be recycled, and putting them in recycle bins can lead to a lot of environmental damage. If you are recycling pizza boxes for the best time, remember to go through all the rules and regulations set by your local waste management company regarding the matter.
One way to dispose of frozen pizza boxes and boxes with grease and cheese bits is to compost them, which is both healthy for the soil and the environment. These boxes can also be used in a fun and creative DIY art project.