Pizza Box Recycling

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Find out what to do with your used pizza boxes!

One greasy pizza box can contaminate a whole batch of paper recycling! Make sure you know what do to in your town.

Do you live in a city where pizza boxes are composted? Great! Be sure to put them in the correct bin.

Do you live in a city where pizza boxes need to be clean OR aren't allowed? WAIT! STOP! Rip the top! Put the greasy/cheesy cardboard in the trash and the clean top in your recycling.

Not sure about your town? Search WikiPizzia! If you're in a city with more than 100,000 people, we should have information for you.

Don't see your town? Help us out! Anyone can edit WikiPizzia. Be sure to cite to your sources.

Wait! STOP! Rip the top!

Wait! Stop! Rip the top!

Wait! Stop! Rip the top! is a campaign by FIRST® LEGO League (FLL) Team 434 Pithons to encourage proper recycling of pizza boxes.

For the FLL 2015 TRASH TREK Challenge we researched all kinds of issues related to trash and recycling, such as:

  • Recycling related to transportation, such as tires or motor oil
  • Stormwater Pollution Prevention
  • Cleaning up the Great Pacific Garbage Patch
  • Reducing paper use in schools
  • Making battery recycling available curbside
  • Indoor/city/neighborhood composting
  • Tagging plastics to make them easier to sort

We decided that educating people about a specific recycling problem might be most effective. We created a survey about recycling habits.

FLL Team 434 Pithons Recycling Questions

In our survey, 77.6% of respondents recycled their used pizza boxes. That got us thinking. We found out that there are over 3 billion pizzas sold in the United States every year. What happens to all the pizza boxes used for take out and delivery?

We found out that in most areas of the United States, pizza boxes should be thrown away, not recycled. A few cities and towns, such as San Francisco, have composting programs. But in areas where cardboard is recycled into paper, the grease and food contamination can ruin entire batches of recycled paper.

When cardboard is recycled, water is added to make the fibers into slurry, or pulp. Food and grease float on top of the slurry and also cause paper to float. The fibers don't release as they should, so the end result is paper with holes in it.

Our team researched every city with a population of 100,000 or more in the United States to see their citizens should do with their soiled pizza boxes. Most locations want pizza boxes in the trash, not recycling.

We realized that pizza box tops are usually free of contamination by grease and cheese. We started our Wait! Stop! Rip the top! campaign to try to recycle as much cardboard as possible. Keeping contaminated boxes out of recycling makes paper recycling more efficient. Keeping clean cardboard our of the trash reduces solid waste and lets more paper be recycled.

We decided to take it one step further and post our research on pizza box recycling online. The result is! The pizza box recycling site that you can edit.

Pithons Robotics