I’m one of the few people I know who looks on a municipality’s website about the recycling rules as soon as I move into a new neighbourhood (but then again, I’m one of the few people I know who moves every few years!). Both in Toronto and Montreal I’ve noticed that pizza boxes cannot be recycled. I’ve always wanted to know why. After all, they’re made from cardboard and generally, cardboard is one of the most common and easily recyclable materials out there.

While looking for a recycling centre that will fit in my new kitchen, I stumbled across this very interesting blog post on the Glad website. In a nutshell, it turns out that the reason some municipalities prohibit pizza box recycling is that the oils from the cheese and meat that soak into the box conflict with the way the cardboard is broken down.

From the website:

 Cardboard (and other paper products) are recycled through a process by which they are ground up and mixed with water.  Oils in this mix can prevent the paper fibers from binding properly, resulting in spots, holes and other problems with paper quality.  [source]

Stickers on the outside of the box can also contaminate the recycling process.

The website offers a few suggestions about what you can do with your used pizza boxes instead of throwing them in the garbage.

  1. Compost in a city composting program. Check to see if your city composting program accepts “brown waste” such as soiled paper napkins and paper towels, food wraps and pizza boxes. Don’t, however, add pizza boxes to your backyard compost as they will attract pests.
  2. Tear away contaminated pieces and put the rest of the box in recycling.

If a soiled pizza box does get into a recycling container it can cause the entire lot to be diverted to landfill, so if you don’t have a city composting program (ahem, Montreal!!), throw the pizza box in the garbage. One box in landfill prevents the entire lot from having to go, so it’s the best of the worst.

So the next time you want to put your pizza box in the recycling bin, check first with your municipality’s website to make sure it’s accepted….and enjoy your pizza!

Feature Photo by ProtoSpace on Flickr. [CC BY 2.0 (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0)]

BEC Green

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