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The Best Way to Recycle Your Pizza Boxes

There’s a lot of perks to having pizza delivered. You don’t have to leave the comfort of your home. You don’t have to cook. And better yet, you don’t have to clean all the dishes from cooking. And, perhaps the biggest perk: pizza is just plain delicious.

But there is one drawback: those leftover pesky pizza boxes you accumulate after you polish off your meal.

The corrugated cardboard containers are often bulky and awkwardly sized. There’s also a slew of confusion and mystery around whether pizza boxes can actually be recycled.

But, in most cases, you can recycle them. Here’s a step-by-step guide that will help you help the environment and recycle your pizza boxes.

Check With Your Local Municipality’s Recycling Agency

Before you chuck the box in your bin, be sure to log on to the website of your local municipality to see what their exact rules are on pizza boxes. Often, cities will have information like this readily available online. Checking these guidelines is a good place to begin — and you’ll often pick up a few new recycling tips in the process.

Remove All Crumbs And Cut Out Grease Stains

If your city or town doesn’t have any specific rules on pizza boxes, then you can likely recycle it. But there is one hitch: Any parts of the pizza box that were contaminated by oil and other food need to be removed before it’s recycled. If grease seeps to the bottom of the box and stains it — then that piece of the box cannot be put in your recycling bin; instead, it should be placed in the garbage.

According to Stanford University, the so-called “contaminated” part of the pizza box can’t be recycled because “paper fibers will not be able to be separated from the oils during the pulping process.”

The good news is you can rip off the top of the box — which is not normally soiled by a pizza’s cheese or sauce — and recycle that half. You can also cut around the oil in the box to salvage the non-soiled pieces of the container that can be recycled. And if there is no grease or food residue besmirching the box, that’s even better: the entire container can be recycled with no extra work involved.

Just be sure dust off any crumbs or leftover pizza toppings that may be lingering in the box’s crevices before you transport it to your green recycling canister.

Cut The Box Up For Convenience

Pizza boxes are often bulky and sometimes take up too much space in your recycling bin or dumpster. For your convenience, use a box cutter to slice up the box-shaped cardboard container and fold it up in a compact manner that will fit alongside all your other recycling materials. Breaking the box down in your home, before you transfer it to your outdoor bin, will minimize the hassle of trying to force the large box into your receptacle.

Compost The Rest of The Box

And if you want to be extra environmentally conscious, you can maximize your green footprint by composting the soiled portion of the pizza box — or the entire box itself. In fact, North Carolina State University has entire composting dumpsters dedicated exclusively to pizza boxes on its campus.  

Just make sure the pizza box is rid of any plastic packaging, rip it up and toss it into your composting bin. It will be just a matter of time before the box decomposes.