We often get questions from residents about whether or not they can include pizza boxes in their recycling carts or in the cardboard container at the Recycling Center. The simple answer is no!
Even though they are made from cardboard or heavy paperboard, which are recyclable materials, nearly every pizza box has some greasy residue which soaks into the box. When mixed in with clean cardboard, the contamination spreads. The recycling process starts by creating a slurry by pulping the cardboard with water. At that stage, the oil spreads even more, and inhibits the ability for the fibers to bind properly into new cardboard stock (this is the same problem caused by recycling waxed cardboard). Check out this link to learn more about the cardboard recycling process: http://www.corrugated.org/upload/files/FBA_Handbook_RecyclingProcess.pdf
Does the idea of putting your pizza box in the trash make you feel a little guilty? Just remember that if you recycle a pizza box with food and grease contamination, it does not benefit the recycling stream. Considering the 3Rs, there's not much reuse potential for a greasy pizza box, but you could reduce the need for a box altogether if you are able to dine in at your favorite pizza place.
Questions about food packaging recycling? Contact the Solid Waste Management Division at 508-532-6001; firstname.lastname@example.org; or stop in and see us at the Recycling Center (255 Mt. Wayte Ave., Thursday-Saturday, 8am-3pm; Sunday, 11am-3pm).