It’s somewhat bizarre that this post follows my recent post about the psychology of food and how organic and healthy foods can psychologically help us feel better, but seriously… we all splurge and occasionally eat the bad stuff too. Show me one person who doesn’t and I’ll show you a hundred who DO!
Anyhow, I often find myself frustrated with the inaccurate information about what can be recycled and what cannot. Pizza boxes are a prime example because I’ve seen them listed on far too many “recyclable lists” without clear explanations.
Most are made of corrugated cardboard… a material that is normally recyclable, but I want to clear up this misconception…
PIZZA BOXES SHOULD NOT BE RECYCLED!
There are exceptions to this rule, so here is the 411 on pizza boxes. As soon as foods (especially oils, cheese, etc.) absorb into this cardboard it become UNRECYCLABLE. If recycled, the paper fibers will not be able to separate from the oils during pulping and a tainted pizza box can actually ruin an entire batch of paper during this process. If some parts, like the lid, don’t have any oil or food on it, tear it off and recycle it, but if it’s dirty, forget it… and toss it in the trash.
This also holds true for any paper products that have been soiled by food… paper plates, napkins, paper towels, etc. If your rationale is that these items will be weeded out before recycling just remember that they can cross-contaminate a lot of paper around them while they wait to be recycled, so you are also ruining a bunch of otherwise recyclable materials.
It’s Friday… so after you take a break from a week full of cooking and call your local pizza joint, remember the real answer for recycling the box: your recycle bin and all the other papers inside say “no thanks”!