Are Pizza Boxes Recyclable? 🍕 – So, ‘Dough’ You Think You Can Recycle It?
Are Pizza Boxes Recyclable? 🍕: We all want to do the right thing when it comes to recycling. But unfortunately, some items aren’t as easy to recycle – pizza boxes are one of these.
You may be unaware that your favourite pizza and the box that it comes with are an unlikely pairing. Here’s why: pizza boxes, for the most part, are made of corrugated cardboard.
And if you’re just dumping the entire empty box after enjoying a slice or two, perhaps? You may be doing more harm than good, without even realising it.
In addition, it is a known fact that food waste is a major source of contaminants in paper recycling. More specifically, grease and oil are two of the worst culprits that can contaminate pizza boxes, which ultimately becomes a hindrance to the paper recycling process.
Contamination of just a single pizza box is tantamount to rendering an entire batch of paper recycling completely futile.
Paper recycling process: and the consequence of contamination!
Let’s take a look at how paper and cardboard recycling works – and where recyclable pizza boxes enter the picture. Paper recycling is a whole different story because paper doesn’t get heated during its recycling process. Grease and oil, combined with the pulp, can ruin a batch of recyclables, thereby wasting recyclables and money.
Once your paper and cardboard are sorted into grades and types, they move on to the paper mill. They may spend weeks in storage, where food particles and grease can turn rancid and attract insects or animals.
By mixing in water, a semi-liquid mixture or “slurry” comes into fruition. That’s where your greasy pizza box comes into the picture!
If you’ve ever washed something full of grease or oil, you know that it’s quite painstaking to remove it completely. Once in the slurry, the remaining oil floats to the top. Unavoidably, it becomes impossible to separate the oil from the paper fibres at this point.
Depending on what type of paper product and how much contamination occurs, an entire batch may be ruined.
Pizza boxes as recyclable: what’s important to remember
Are pizza boxes recyclable? There is no easy answer to the question as it varies from one locality to another in Australia. Australian councils have different waste management companies which sequentially have different rules and mandates.
With pizza boxes, there’s a big risk that there will be food and grease. So a lot of Australian councils are saying no to pizza boxes.
Pizza boxes made from cardboard are inherently recyclable, meaning that to a degree, pizzas boxes can indeed be recycled.
But they may create a problem because of contamination issues. It is important to recognise that the crux of the matter is when contamination comes into play. Simply put, once soiled, the paper cannot be recycled. This is because the paper fibres will not separate from the oils during the pulping process.
Too much grease and oil can influence the quality of the pulped cardboard. As a result, this could ruin a batch of potentially reusable paper. During the recycling of paper, mixing it with water is the initial step.
Turning the combo into a slurry, where the oil residues then rise to the top.
Separating paper fibres from the oils is virtually impossible. It can cause problems with the binding of the fibres. Essentially, it can compromise and ruin the whole recycling batch.
How do you recycle contaminated pizza boxes?
In theory, recycling is a relatively straightforward concept. In the long run, an increase in the success rate of pizza boxes that are recyclable is our endgame.
So, how do you know whether a pizza box is too greasy to recycle? Sit down first and think about it: can it really be recycled? Do not try to recycle it right away and search for possible options to deal with it.
To avoid contamination of clean materials, cut off the clean tops of your pizza boxes. Afterwards, you can send the bottoms of your pizza boxes to the trash.
Remember that it only takes one greasy box to ruin a batch of potentially reusable paper.
After recycling the top portion of your box, you can throw it in the garbage or – even better – compost it! To compost a pizza box, you need to break it into smaller pieces and place it in your compost bin.
Food and grease-ridden paper items are capable of disintegrating and will break down over time.
Check with your local recycling programs to find out more about the policies in your respective locales and municipalities. One example we have heard of that can recycle is in Onkaparinga, Adelaide. There, they can accept your greasy pizza boxes and allow you to put them in the recycling/yellow bin. Make sure to clean it first (clean or wash containers before recycling, people). But if it still has food residue on it, then you should send it in to the organic waste bin.
Although most do not allow them, some allow boxes with minimal grease for recycling, whilst others allow them to mingle it in with compost.
The bottom line on pizza boxes labeled as recyclable
Discrepancies regarding recycling come in varying senses of urgency and magnitude.
From modest recyclable pizza boxes to more grandiose worldwide recycling schemes and initiatives. Regardless of which, each of us has the potential and capability to extend a helping hand to Mother Nature.
Starting with awareness of how our actions impact our environment is always a good first step to keep in mind. In addition, knowing what works for us in terms of recycling is the very essence or most important point at issue.
Putting to heart know-hows as regards waste segregation and management, we can surmount whatever comes our way.
Always remember that any and every succeeding step are in the palm of your hand.
A bit about Waster
Waster provides services to small and medium Australian businesses. We are a waste and recycling services business with distinct differences.
Our focus is on two main things – helping businesses reduce their costs and also boosting recycling!
For further information, please visit Waster’s official website.