Few things are as enticing as the aroma of freshly baked pizzas arriving at your front door, and they’re even more appealing when you realize the boxes are made to be recycled.
That means there’s no need for buyer’s remorse when you contemplate disposing of them afterward—even if they have grease stains and some melted cheese.
In many neighborhoods, neither of those is any impediment to recycling any longer. If you didn’t know that, you’re not alone: Only 57% of Americans realize pizza boxes can be recycled at all, survey data shows.
The ultimate decision over recycle bin vs. trash bag rests with local recyclers and what their equipment and processes accept. Many programs do accept the boxes, whether they explicitly say so or not.
If you live in the northeast, chances are higher that you can empty and flatten the box and add it to your recycle bin. If you live in the south or midwest, chances are lower.
Check your local recycler’s rules
To see what boxes it will accept and how clean they have to be. Guidelines vary from community to community. If you don't see pizza boxes on the list, you can request your recycling center to start accepting them.
Since U.S. residents use about 3 billion pizza boxes a year, amounting to 600,000 tons of cardboard material that can be recycled, that represents a big opportunity for consumers.
By pitching in, you’re maximizing the benefits of responsible forest management. In the U.S., about twice as much wood is grown for paper and packaging products as is used each year, and cardboard boxes like pizza boxes can be recycled up to seven times.
Once you’ve double checked that your local recycler takes pizza boxes, then be sure you empty and flatten the boxes before you drop them in the recycling bin. Just remember: Empty, Flatten and Recycle (EFR)!
Read More: Food Packaging Design Hacks That Will Change the Way You Eat