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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, read more.
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
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