There’s a lot of confusion about whether or not you can recycle pizza boxes. They’re made of cardboard and they have a recycle symbol on them, so what’s the problem right?
The Trouble With Recycling Pizza Boxes
Well, have you noticed how oil separates from water? That’s part of why used pizza boxes can’t be thrown in with normal paper for recycling. Paper, as you can tell, comes in various grades, from newspapers to the type of corrugated boxes that pizza boxes are made out of.
These different grades are separated by a paper mill, as they’re used to make different types of recycled paper products. A pulper is used to break down the fibers of the paper into a mush. The screening process takes out globs of glue or staples or wires and such, but grease ruins the whole batch. The oils can’t be separated from the fibers, and it’s as simple as that.
It’s not as much of a problem with glass or plastic recycling, just with paper because of the way it has to mix with water. There’s no difference here between meat and cheese grease- it’s pretty much oils or food of any kind that contaminate paper. It’s kind of crazy to think that a paper mill may have to discard a whole batch of paper if there’s too many contaminants. I’ve read some estimates for this type of paper contamination to be in the hundreds of millions of dollars, industry-wide. These costs include damage to machinery, generally wasted time and paper batches.