Can You Recycle Greasy Pizza Boxes?

Can You Recycle Greasy Pizza Boxes

Pizza boxes are made of cardboard, which means they’re recyclable. Unfortunately, this is only a half-truth, depending on the condition of the pizza box. 

Cardboard is universally recyclable, but you cannot recycle it when it’s contaminated with oil, like from a greasy pizza box. Oil, grease and food are difficult to remove and bind the cardboard fibres together. For cardboard manufacturers to recycle pizza boxes, you must separate the individual cardboard fibres.

Takeaway Packaging is here to give you the low-down on recycling pizza boxes and how to provide your customers with easy-to-dispose-of, compostable and recyclable pizza boxes. Yes, they really do exist. 

Why Can’t Greasy Pizza Boxes Be Recycled?

When recycling glass, metal or plastic, the heat processes are used to burn away food residue, but paper recycling is slightly different. 

Cardboard and paper spend a significant amount of time in storage before they are processed. The food and grease residue ends up going rancid after a while and attracts the presence of insects and other animals. 

The cardboard is then washed with soapy water and a mixture of chemicals to remove any coloured inks or glue and mixed in a slurry with water. But it takes a fair amount of scrubbing to eradicate oil and grease. Therefore, the slurry becomes a mix of water with oil floating to the top, and it’s no longer possible to separate oil from paper fibres. Depending on the level of contamination, an entire batch can be ruined by greasy pizza boxes. 

What About Wish-Cycling?

One of the biggest problems with recycling contamination is “wish-cycling”. This is when people put non-recyclable waste in their recycling bins because they assume it’s recyclable or at least want it to be. It makes sense. We all want to feel less guilty about that Domino’s last night.

But, a single contaminated item can cause problems in the recycling process. It might be spotted early on and tossed away. However, the likelihood is it’ll end up contaminating a batch of clean cardboard. 

In fact, “wish-cycling” is such a big problem that bin men in Lincolnshire refuse to empty recycling bins if they see a Mcdonalds bag or pizza box in the rubbish. Many bin men are fed up with rifling through bins for greasy takeaway containers. Aspirational recycling has become so prolific that many councils have followed Lincolnshire council’s example in refusing to empty recycling contaminated with greasy pizza boxes. 

So, what’s the solution to the contaminated recycling problem? How can we avoid “wish-cycling?” It’s actually pretty simple. 

How You Can Make Your Pizza Boxes Recyclable

To ensure recycling isn’t contaminated, you can cut off the greasy bottoms of pizza boxes and only throw the clean tops in the recycling. It still means that recyclable content ends up in the landfill, though. 

If you’re a street food or pizza vendor, there’s a compostable and recyclable pizza box that allows your customers to dispose of their takeaway packaging guilt-free.

pizza boxesOur recyclable and compostable meal and pizza boxes are something else. Why? Because we’ve reworked the original design. Your standard cardboard pizza box has virgin Kraft paper on the outside and test paper (recycled paper) on the inside. The old-school pizza boxes need extra greaseproof paper between the food and the box, and even then, grease still soaks through. 

We’ve flipped the Kraft and test paper so the Kraft paper lines the inside of the box in our version. This way, the box can come into direct contact with food, providing a much higher grease resistance. The virgin Kraft paper is smoother than test paper which means tightly packed fibres make it far harder for grease to penetrate. 

These pizza boxes are made from 73% recycled paper and are 100% recyclable and even compostable. As the surge in eco-conscious consumerism continues, it’s time to eliminate the greasy pizza box grey area and dispose of eco-friendly waste sustainably! 

Your pizza boxes don’t have to be boring. Go custom with our in-house design team and be seen as green! Minimum order quantity of 2000 units.