If you believe that pizza boxes are recyclable, you are not alone. Many people put pizza boxes spotted with bits of food debris into a recycling bin. Before you eat your next pizza, you should know that food contamination destroys whole batches of recyclable material and costs the industry hundreds of millions of dollars every year.
Many people believe pizza boxes are always recyclable because they are made of corrugated cardboard, a recyclable material. Many pizza boxes have a recycling symbol on them, adding to the confusion.
Pizza boxes are a notorious source of contamination in the recycling industry. You should never put a pizza box in the recycling bin if it is contaminated by grease or food debris. Leaving part of the pizza in the box is even worse because rotting organic materials can damage other people's clean recycled cardboard in transit.
If you fail to heed this warning, you might destroy a whole batch of paper materials during the recycling process. Water is used to break down a batch of paper into pulp. If there is oil in the batch, the paper that comes out may be weak or have holes in it because the fibers don't stick together.
If your pizza box is clean, remove any labels or coupons that may be attached to it and scrape off any glue stuck to the cardboard. Then you can recycle it with confidence. If part of the box is stained, tear off the bad parts and put the clean corrugated cardboard in your recycling bin.
Consider an alternative form of disposal for contaminated pizza boxes. You can compost the food soaked parts of the box to cut down on waste. Food and cardboard are both good for a compost pile.