Do you recycle? I have been recycling for years. Growing up my mom started a recycling program in our hometown. The money raised by selling crushed glass and aluminum cans was used to purchase land to be added to the towns land trust organization; the Guilford Land Trust.  A win win situation.

Guilford Land Trust

Guilford Land Trust

As the years have gone by the way we recycle has changed. In many towns it is mandatory. Some towns require that the recycling be separated, glass, plastics and metal. In our town everything goes into one recycling container. However there are numerous rules we follow. For example when recycling glass you can not recycle light bulbs, dishes, Pyrex, drinking glasses, window panes or ceramics.

Cardboard can be recycled such as cereal boxes, shoe boxes, clothing boxes, soda and beer carriers, egg cartons but no laundry detergent boxes! No frozen food boxes or drink boxes. Can I recycle my pizza box?

Pizza Toscana in box

 (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

The short answer is yes and no. If there are grease spots or food residue on the lid and base, then the answer is no. If the food residue and grease is only on the bottom, then toss that part and recycle the rest.

While grease from food doesn’t tend to contaminate the recycling process when it comes to metals, glass and plastic, food does present serious problems by way of contaminating paper recycling. The slurry that is created when recycling paper and cardboard is formed through mixing the recycled objects with water.

And water just doesn’t mix with oil and grease from food, which rises to the top of the slurry mixture. When this occurs, which it inevitably does when food grease is introduced into the process, then the various paper and cardboard fibers cannot properly be separated during the pulping process. The entire batch is contaminated and cannot ever be recycled. The grease and oil on the pizza box makes difficulties in the binding of the fibers, adding contaminates – when the water is eventually squeezed back out of the pulp, the oil created holes and spots that render the paper quality severally poor or unusable.

Other paper products like napkins; paper towels and paper plates also should not be thrown in with the recycling. And if you do dispose of the “clean” sections of your pizza boxes, remember to remove any stickers or coupons, whose adhesives also contaminate the recycling mix.

In the meantime take time to separate your trash and recycle. It will cut down on your garbage saving you money and helping the planet at the same time.


(Photo credits:


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