Few foods have the universal appeal that pizza has. 🍕 A survey by Cauliflower found that 98 percent of Americans eat pizza and enjoy it occasionally. 33 million Americans would even go as far as saying they'd choose it as their last meal on earth!
That explains why pizza restaurants made $45.59 billion in annual revenue in 2021. But the question remains, what do you do with the box? The obvious eco-friendly answer is to recycle it, and people do a pretty good job on that front. The recycling rate was 91.4 percent in 2021.
Those pizza boxes eventually become, well, more boxes, paper bags, and paperboard that often gets used for packaging. Recycling technology has come a long way. Before, you had to separate recyclables and many municipalities didn’t accept soiled items like pizza boxes. Manufacturers found that the grease in them could foul up the recycling process.
If you’re wondering, are pizza boxes recyclable, the good news is that they are! Here's our guide to disposing of them correctly.
What Kind of Foods Can Pizza Boxes Hold?
Even pizza boxes have stepped up their game to become more versatile. We’ve come a long way from the cardboard circle tucked in a stapled paper bag. The available shapes and sizes make it a no-brainer for all kinds of food.
Pizza Boxes Can Hold Pizza, Cookies, Brownies, and More
Pizza boxes are ideal for holding flat items, such as bakery goods. The rigid shape means that the toppings won’t stick to the inside of the lid. They’re also an excellent way to protect foods from getting crushed. You can keep everything warm until it’s time to serve.
What Materials Can Pizza Boxes Be Made From?
It wasn’t until the 1940s that pizza showed up on family dinner tables. A cardboard-paper-bag combo worked for transporting them. However, it had a few drawbacks. It didn’t keep the food warm, and sometimes, the grease seeped through the cardboard.
Plastic isn’t the best material for pizza, either. It’s more expensive and would be harder to handle in the large sizes of many pizzas. It would take several years before the industry would find a better solution for food storage and transport to the masses.
It wasn’t until a small pizza chain came up with a better solution in the early 1960s with a brilliant innovation that sent shock waves through the industry. You may have heard of the business, Dominos. Of course, as the fast food and delivery industries evolved, so did the boxes.
Most of the Time, They're Made of Cardboard
Cardboard has remained the most common material used for pizza boxes. It has a lot going for it by solving the issues with grease seeping through paper bags. It’s inexpensive yet durable enough to get the job done.
Of course, tweaks in the design have made them more convenient, with holders for containers of grated Parmesan cheese and crushed red pepper flakes.
Coatings also came on the scene to make it less messy to work with the boxes. The basic concept hung on with modifications in the design and closures for improved convenience.
Can Pizza Boxes Be Recycled?
As pizza has become more and more popular, delivery sales in 2021 increased to a whopping $19.8 billion. Undoubtedly, the pandemic had something to do with the spike. However, it also highlighted the need for a disposal solution. Even in 2018, over 25 percent of paper and cardboard were still ending up in landfills. Recycling pizza boxes offers an excellent solution.
Some, But Not All, Can Be Recycled (noissue's Pizza Boxes Can!)
Some cities still may not take pizza boxes. Several reasons may affect this choice, including the grease we mentioned earlier. However, restaurants have a choice and a way to make a difference with noissue’s Pizza Boxes. These items can go into the recycle bin.
How to Know When You Can Recycle a Pizza Box
Undoubtedly, your city will provide information about acceptable and non-acceptable items for recycling. That’s the first place to check. We strongly urge you to follow these guidelines and not to try and sneak a pizza box in with the other cardboard. Unapproved things are on the list for a reason.
How to Correctly Recycle a Pizza Box
The US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) recommends cleaning out the pizza box as well as you can. Toss that plastic tripod that keeps your pie from getting crushed into the recycling bin. Flatten them and bundle them as you would with any cardboard box. It’s worth mentioning that storage is the top barrier to recycling. Saving space can make it easier for you until the pick-up day.
Can Pizza Boxes Be Composted?
Regular pizza boxes can take 2 months or more to decompose completely. Environmental factors play a significant role. Any coatings or glue can delay the process. After all, their purpose is to keep moisture out of the material so that they’d last longer. Fortunately, there’s an eco-friendly alternative.
Some Pizzas Boxes Can Be Composted, Like noissue's
You can also compost Noissue’s pizza boxes. They’ll break down quicker without the coatings that could slow composting. Instead, the inner kraft paper cuts down on the grease, making the process easier and odor-free.
How to Correctly Compost a Pizza Box
Most municipalities will ask that you flatten your cardboard boxes and bundle them with twine to make picking them up easier for the crews. You’ll find it less cumbersome for you if you keep like-sized boxes together.
Can You Throw Food Scraps Out With a Food Box?
Food scraps were the stickling point early in the days of container and box recycling. While the process is automated, it’s still wise to take the extra time to clean out your pizza boxes.
If You're Composting, You Can
If you’re composting your cardboard, you can leave food scraps in the pizza box. However, we don’t recommend leaving any meat scraps in it. They will go rancid and emit foul odors when they rot. If your city offers organic recycling, toss the leftover food with your other household waste.
If You're Recycling, You Can't
The same reasons we suggest removing scraps apply to recycling pizza boxes, too. Remember that leftover food in the pizza boxes is also an invitation to lure pests like rodents and raccoons to your yard.
Recap: The Dos and Don'ts of Disposing of Pizza Boxes
Enjoying a take-out or delivery pizza is an excellent no-fuss meal. Since you’re unlikely to reuse the box, it makes sense to either recycle or compost them. If you’re wondering, are pizza boxes recyclable, the answer is a resounding yes! Let’s go over some guidelines.
- Clean out the boxes as best you can, including any inner paper or plastic containers.
- Flatten them to conserve space in your home and on the recycling truck.
- Bundle like-size cardboard together with twine.
- Leave food scraps in any discarded boxes.
- Add boxes with meat leftovers to your compost pile.
Make an Eco-Friendly Choice for Your Business
noissue offers an environmentally friendly solution for cardboard containers. Our pizza boxes are made from 30 to 60 percent recycled materials. We use B Flute Corrugate for durability and inner kraft paper for a more pleasing appearance when your customers get their first glimpse of your delicious products.
Your choice of these eco-friendly products will send a compelling message about your business’s commitment to sustainability. Our pizza boxes are both recyclable and compostable without any coatings that would interfere with their decomposition.
Request a quote today and join our Eco-Alliance Community to make sustainable choices for a healthy planet!