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How to Recycle Pizza Boxes

Imagine this: you’ve just finished devouring your favorite pizza with your friends or family, and you’re left with a pizza box that needs to be disposed of. You know that recycling is essential for preserving the environment, but you’re not sure whether you can recycle that greasy pizza box.

The idea that pizza boxes are non-recyclable is a common misconception, but it’s not entirely true. In this article, we will help you understand how to recycle pizza boxes properly, ensuring that you’re doing your part to reduce waste and preserve our environment.

Why some pizza boxes are not recyclable

Pizza boxes are made from corrugated cardboard, which is generally recyclable. However, the grease and food residue that often cling to pizza boxes can contaminate the recycling process, rendering them non-recyclable.

The oils from the pizza seep into the cardboard, affecting its ability to be broken down and turned into new paper products.

The difference between a recyclable and a non-recyclable pizza box

The main difference between a recyclable and a non-recyclable pizza box lies in the amount of grease and food residue on the cardboard.

A recyclable pizza box has minimal grease stains and no leftover food, while a non-recyclable pizza box is heavily stained and may have food scraps still attached to it.

How to determine if your pizza box is recyclable or not

To determine if your pizza box is recyclable, first, check for grease stains and food residue. If the box has only a few light grease stains and no food leftovers, it is likely recyclable.

On the other hand, if the pizza box is heavily stained and has food particles clinging to it, it is best to consider it non-recyclable and find an alternative disposal method.

Preparing Pizza Boxes for Recycling

The proper way to dispose of leftover food and oil stains

Before recycling a pizza box, ensure that all leftover food has been removed. Scrape off any remaining cheese or toppings and dispose of them in the trash or compost bin.

If the box has heavy grease stains, consider tearing off the stained portions and recycling the clean parts of the box. Alternatively, you can use a paper towel to absorb the excess grease before placing the box in the recycling bin.

Removing any additional items from the box

Before recycling your pizza box, make sure to remove any additional items such as napkins, plastic utensils, or sauce cups. These items are not recyclable with cardboard and can contaminate the recycling stream.

Flattening the pizza box to conserve space

To conserve space in your recycling bin and make transportation more efficient, flatten your pizza box by breaking down the corners and folding the box flat.

Recycling Options for Pizza Boxes

Curbside Recycling: What you need to Know

Many communities offer curbside recycling programs that accept pizza boxes. To participate, simply place your clean, flattened pizza box in your recycling bin according to your local recycling guidelines.

Be sure to check with your local recycling facility to confirm whether they accept pizza boxes for recycling.

Drop-off Recycling

If your community doesn’t offer curbside recycling or doesn’t accept pizza boxes, you can still recycle your pizza boxes by locating a drop-off recycling center near you.

Many cities have dedicated recycling centers that accept a wide range of materials, including pizza boxes. Search online for a local recycling facility and its accepted materials to ensure your pizza box can be recycled there.


In some cases, pizza boxes that are too greasy or contaminated for recycling can still be composted. Cardboard is a rich source of carbon and can be broken down by microorganisms in a compost pile.

If you have a home composting system or access to a community composting facility, consider composting your pizza box instead of sending it to the landfill. Just be sure to remove any non-compostable items like plastic utensils or sauce cups before adding the box to your compost.

Common Mistakes to Avoid

Why greasy pizza boxes can ruin an entire batch of recyclables

It is crucial to avoid recycling heavily greased pizza boxes, as they can ruin an entire batch of recyclables. The oils from the pizza box can compromise the integrity of the paper fibers, making it difficult to create new paper products.

Additionally, the grease can cause contamination during the recycling process, leading to the entire batch being rejected and sent to the landfill.

How to avoid contamination and keep the recycling stream clean

To avoid contamination and ensure a clean recycling stream, follow these simple steps:

  • Remove all food leftovers and additional items from the pizza box.
  • Absorb excess grease with a paper towel or tear off the heavily stained portions of the box.
  • Recycle only clean and grease-free cardboard.

Common mistakes people make when trying to recycle pizza boxes

Some common mistakes people make when recycling pizza boxes include:

  • Recycling pizza boxes with food leftovers or additional items still inside.
  • Not removing the heavily greased parts of the box.
  • Failing to check local recycling guidelines to confirm whether pizza boxes are accepted.

By avoiding these mistakes, you can help ensure a successful recycling process and reduce contamination in the recycling stream.


In conclusion, properly recycling pizza boxes is essential to reduce waste and preserve our environment. By understanding the difference between recyclable and non-recyclable pizza boxes, preparing them correctly for recycling, and knowing your local recycling options, you can do your part in keeping our planet clean and green.

Remember to always check your local recycling guidelines, and when in doubt, opt for composting as a sustainable alternative. With your help, we can reduce waste, preserve resources, and make the world a better place for future generations.


Can you put the pizza box in recycling?

Yes, you can put pizza boxes in recycling, but only if they are clean and free of grease and food residue. Check with your local recycling program to confirm if they accept pizza boxes and follow their guidelines.

What can I do with old pizza boxes?

If you can’t recycle old pizza boxes, consider composting them or repurposing them for creative projects, such as painting or drawing. Finding alternative uses helps reduce waste and can be a fun activity.

How do you bin pizza boxes?

To bin pizza boxes, remove any food residue and grease, flatten the box, and place it in the recycling bin according to your local recycling guidelines. If recycling isn’t possible, explore alternative uses or dispose of it in the trash.


  • Jen Wheeler

    Jen Wheeler, co-founder of Recycling-Revolution.com, holds degrees from UC Berkeley, Yale, and Stanford. A renowned environmentalist, she's championed sustainable practices at global events and leads EcoBright Solutions, focusing on recycling education and eco-friendly products.

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