Pizza box disposal and recycling

Order any takeaway pizza from a well-known High Street brand or local takeaway and odds are it will arrive in a standard pizza box. These boxes are a convenient way for takeaway shops to get your pizza from A to B whilst keeping it warm and protecting it from damage during the delivery process. While they may be handy, they can also be a pain to dispose of.

pizza box recycling waste collection

Who invented the pizza box?

The pizza box feels like it’s been around forever, but the first official patent for a pizza box was made in 1963. This was made from corrugated cardboard and opened to the sides, so quite dissimilar to the modern-day version. That modern-day version is widely attributed to Domino’s, who started creating easily stackable, ‘Chicago folding’ boxes in the 1980s, even if they didn’t file a patent for the new design.

What are they made from?

Pizza boxes are made from 100% corrugated cardboard. They’re designed to be a cheap, easily stackable and highly resilient form of packaging, good at regulating temperature and humidity to ensure your pizza arrives hot and not dried out. The air pockets in the corrugated card help trap the heat generated by your freshly cooked pizza, hopefully keeping it hot while it’s out for delivery. They’re also highly absorbent, which means they capture any excess oils which might come off your favourite takeaway while it’s in transit.

Pizza box disposal

Because they are made from 100% cardboard, pizza boxes can be recycled rather than being sent to landfill and contributing to general waste. This is far more eco-friendly. Providing your pizza box isn’t swimming in excess grease, you can easily add it to your own household’s paper and cardboard recycling. If the base does look too greasy, these boxes are easily disassembled so you can still recycle the parts which haven’t been contaminated. Some takeaways are even including cardboard discs that sit beneath the pizza, meaning the box itself is protected from any oils which might have leaked.

What happens next?

After your pizza box has been popped into the recycling, it will be processed along with all the other cardboard and paper. This means it will be broken down into small pieces, mixed with water and a small quantity of wood chips and turned into a pulp which can then be used for other products, contributing to the circular supply chain. This pulp is often used to make things such as toilet paper, kitchen roll or other goods which are labelled as being made from recycled matter.

Problems with pizza box recycling

The main problem with pizza boxes is that there are just so many of them! In the UK, we’re spending money on and consuming a record number of takeaway pizzas, and each of those pizzas is delivered in a box. All those boxes stack up, and all too often they make their way into landfill rather than being recycled as intended. Many people assume they cannot be recycled because they are greasy, but that’s far from the case.

Alternatives to binning your pizza box

Instead of binning your takeaway pizza boxes, they can always be recycled. This might be a case of popping them in your household recycling along with your other paper and cardboard or taking them to a waste disposal site that has a cardboard bank where they can be disposed of. Sometimes, you will find recycling points at convenient locations such as supermarkets, but there will always be local council-run services to help you dispose of your pizza boxes in an environmentally friendly manner.

What waste type shall we learn about next?

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