Can You Recycle Pizza Boxes?

can you recycle pizza boxes

Pizza is undoubtedly one of the most beloved foods worldwide, with its cheesy goodness being irresistible to many. According to DeNiro’s Pizza, a staggering 93% of Americans indulge in pizza at least once a month, contributing to the consumption of 350 slices every second in the US alone. This popularity has propelled the pizza industry into a billion-dollar business.

However, such high pizza consumption also leads to significant waste, particularly in the form of pizza boxes. While these boxes are typically made from cardboard, suggesting they are recyclable, proper disposal is crucial to prevent excess cardboard from filling up landfills. It’s important to note that not all pizza boxes are recyclable; it depends on their condition.

To mitigate the environmental impact of pizza box waste, individuals can take simple steps such as removing any food residue before recycling and checking with local recycling guidelines to ensure proper disposal. Additionally, businesses in the pizza industry can explore eco-friendly packaging alternatives to reduce their environmental footprint. By addressing pizza box waste responsibly, we can enjoy our favorite cheesy slices guilt-free while also protecting the planet.

Pando’s Eco-Friendly Solution

While cardboard is typically recyclable, it becomes problematic when contaminated with substances like oil from a greasy pizza. The oil, grease, and food residues can bind the cardboard fibers together, making the recycling process challenging. To recycle pizza boxes effectively, these fibers must be separated.

Pando is here to simplify the recycling of pizza boxes and assist you in providing your customers with boxes that are easy to dispose of, whether through recycling or composting. Indeed, eco-friendly options like these are readily available. By adopting such initiatives, we can ensure that even our pizza indulgences contribute positively to environmental sustainability.

Why Can’t Greasy Pizza Boxes Be Recycled?

Recycling glass, metal, or plastic involves high-heat processes that burn away food residues. However, recycling paper and cardboard is different. Cardboard often spends a long time in storage before processing, during which food and grease residues can go rancid and attract insects and other pests.

During recycling, cardboard is washed with soapy water and chemicals to remove inks and adhesives and then mixed into a water slurry. Scrubbing can remove many impurities, but oil and grease are particularly challenging. Oil floats to the surface, making it impossible to separate from the paper fibers. Greasy boxes can thus contaminate an entire batch of recycled paper.

The Problem of Wish-Cycling

A major issue with recycling is “wish-cycling,” where people hope that non-recyclable items might be recycled if they are placed in recycling bins. This stems from a good intention, often driven by guilt or hope, like after enjoying a fast-food meal.

However, just one contaminated item can disrupt the recycling process. It may be removed early, or worse, it may contaminate the whole batch. This problem has led some areas, like Lincolnshire, to refuse to collect recycling bins that visibly contain non-recyclable waste such as fast food packaging. This strict approach is becoming more common as communities struggle with contaminated recycling.

How to Make Pizza Boxes Recyclable?

To avoid contaminating recycling streams, you can remove greasy parts of pizza boxes, recycling only the clean sections. However, this solution still results in some recyclable material going to landfill.

For food vendors like us, a better solution is available: compostable and recyclable pizza boxes.  Crafted with a timeless design, these boxes are meticulously engineered to safeguard the flavor and freshness of your pizzas throughout delivery or takeout. Constructed from premium materials, our Pizza Boxes boast exceptional durability and resistance to grease and moisture. The outer layer is made from recycled test paper. The revised structure provides effective grease resistance without the need for additional liners, and the boxes are both recyclable and compostable.

Comprising recycled paper, these innovative pizza boxes meet the growing demand for sustainable packaging solutions. By tackling the issue of greasy boxes, vendors can help pave the way for more environmentally responsible waste disposal.

Steps for Recycling Pizza Boxes

1. Inspect the Box

Open the pizza box and inspect it for any grease or food residue. Determine which parts are clean and which are contaminated.

2. Separate Clean and Contaminated Parts

Tear off any clean sections of the box, such as the top lid, and place them in the recycling bin. Dispose of the greasy sections in the trash or compost.

3. Flatten the Box

Flattening the box can save space in your recycling bin and make it easier for recycling facilities to process. Ensure that only clean, dry cardboard is placed in the recycling bin.

Composting as an Alternative

1. Compostable Material

If you have a compost bin, greasy pizza boxes can be composted. Cardboard breaks down in compost and adds valuable carbon to the compost mix. Tear the box into smaller pieces to speed up the composting process.

2. Municipal Composting Programs

Some municipalities offer composting programs that accept food-soiled paper products, including greasy pizza boxes. Check with your local waste management services to see if this option is available in your area.


Pando actively promotes the circular economy plan – the leap from “recyclable” to “recycled.”

Spice up your pizza boxes with custom designs from our in-house team and showcase your commitment to sustainability!