Pizza Lovers Might Be Able To Recycle Used Boxes After All

Pizza lovers have long been saddened by the painful reality of the pizza box's fate: despite its decidedly cardboard construction, it typically can't go in the recycling bin. While the container can be put to many creative purposes (like this pizza box TikTok hack), for most people, recycling isn't one of them. Pizza's greasiness taints its surroundings and dooms the box to the trash bin (via Public Goods).

Not so fast, say some recent studies. Apparently, the grease doesn't do as much damage as previously reported (per Delish). Researchers at WestRock (which makes the pizza boxes for Domino's) suggest that your favorite slice's delivery system has a better future. The study goes into the details of just how much grease undermines the reusability of cardboard: Essentially, for the cardboard to be truly un-reuseable, you need an oil saturation of close to 20%; most pizza boxes are not nearly that greasy (under 2% saturation is the norm). And cheese alone doesn't seem to pose much of an issue at all. The conclusions WestRock came to are clear "[T]here is no significant technical reason to prohibit post-consumer pizza boxes from the recycle stream." When we consider just how many pizza boxes are getting thrown out (according to Westbrook, if they were all recycled, they would make up more than 2% of recycled paper products) — it makes a big impact on the environment.

Yes, you can (recycle that box!)

But not everyone has gotten the message, including some municipalities and waste management systems. Many people still think you can't recycle pizza boxes, and some of those people are the ones in charge. While most places in the country will let you recycle the containers, there are still some holdouts. Domino's is trying to spread the news to its consumers, and while some cities have followed suit, like New York (per the NY Times), others (like Philadelphia, per Action News Philadelphia) still won't permit pizza boxes in your blue bin. If you're unsure of your local guidelines, Domino's recycling website will let you plug in your zip code and find out what the rules are in your area; the industry giant is clearly hoping that as the facts get out, protocols will change, especially if an informed public gets on board. 

Keep in mind that you should remove any liners, pizza tables, and pieces of food; it goes without saying that you should never put a box that still has pizza in it into the recycling bin — especially when you could just add that leftover pizza to scrambled eggs. However, if you've ordered a meat lover's pizza supreme and the box is truly coated in food particles and heavy grease, that's a recycling no-no. But if your box is the everyday variety we all know (and love) so well, it should be good to go!