Who doesn’t love take-out pizza? The only drawback is what to do with the boxes when you finish.
Are pizza boxes compostable? Can you recycle them? Yes!
To make it easy, I answer those questions down below and detail the pros and cons of pizza box composting. After that, I explain the best way to do it step by step.
Once you learn the tricks to dealing with greasy pizza boxes, you can help the environment by keeping those boxes out of the landfill while creating a rich soil amendment for your garden. Sounds good to me!
Are Pizza Boxes Compostable?
Yes, you can compost pizza boxes when you follow the proper protocol before adding them to your compost bin or outdoor pile.
It’s rare that a cardboard pizza box doesn’t absorb grease or have chunks of cheese stuck to the bottom. This issue can be confusing to composting enthusiasts who know that adding dairy, fats, and oil to compost is a no-no.
You may come across some corrugated-plastic or wax-coated cardboard pizza boxes. These types of materials should not be put in your composter since the content will not break down.
What about bleached (white) cardboard or boxes with a lot of ink printing, are those safe? Yes, small amounts of this type of cardboard can break down without the worry the chemicals or dyes will contaminate the compost when complete.
Before making a final decision on whether composting pizza boxes is worth the time and effort, let’s look into all the pros and cons of doing so.
Related | Is Cardboard Compostable?
Pros And Cons Of Composting Pizza Boxes
- Reduces landfill waste
- Provides a carbon or “brown” compost material to offset “green” ingredients
- Frees up space in your home’s waste bin
- Adding greasy boxes to paper recycling pick-up could taint other items
- Takes time to cut or tear box into smaller pieces
- May end up with more cardboard than you need for your size of composting system, leaving you with storage issues
As you can see, there are many benefits to composting those pizza boxes if you don’t mind spending a few minutes tearing up the cardboard after your meal.
I find it convenient to keep a lidded garbage pail next to my composter to hold “ready-to-use” cardboard scraps, so they remain dry.
This method helps keep storage to a minimum since it’s easier to condense a lot of material into the can when it’s torn up, as opposed to keeping boxes whole until use.
Best Way To Compost Pizza Boxes
Thankfully, there are very few steps you need to follow to compost pizza boxes properly. I want to point out that those who use a vermicomposter will find that worms especially love those greasy bits of the box.
Related | How To Use A Compost Tumbler
Step 1 – Clear Out The Box
Remove plastic or wax paper items from the interior and dump out any crumbs or loose topping remnants. You only want to compost cardboard material, even if it has some grease or food items stuck to it.
Step 2 – Reduce The Size
Tear or use scissors to reduce the pizza box into as many tiny pieces as you can manage. If you have a strong paper shredder, you can run through any non-food or grease sections to save time. I find cardboard shreds break down the fastest in my compost and provide lots of beneficial aeration.
Step 3 – Add To Your Composter
Mix up your pizza box scraps so clean and greasy scraps combine. Add the material into your composter just as you would any carbon ingredient, making sure you balance the ratio to the amount of green ingredients you are adding.
If you worry pests will find the food remnants or grease appealing, make sure you bury the pizza box scraps deep into the center of your pile.
Step 4 – Mix Or Turn Your Compost
To break down your compost ingredients fast, turn or mix your compost every few days which helps keep heat, air, and moisture levels at optimal levels.
Expect any type of cardboard, even greasy ones, to decompose in two to three months. In my composters, shreds of cardboard become unrecognizable in less than a month.
Are Pizza Boxes Recyclable?
If your municipality offers cardboard recycling, you need to be aware that they do not want you to add food or grease-contaminated pizza boxes to the curbside or central collection bin in most cases.
While most recycling centers post allowable items on their website or the side of the dumpster, most consumers assume that any cardboard is acceptable.
Recycling centers want to avoid greasy boxes with stuck-on food bits due to the way they treat the paper products. Paper and cardboard recycling process requires the items to soak in water and chemicals to soften the fibers and mix them into a slurry-like liquid.
If the cardboard is full of grease, it won’t mix with the water and allow the pulp to separate from the oil properly. When this happens, the whole batch becomes unusable, which is a colossal waste of water and resources.
If you don’t compost your pizza boxes, do the right thing, and take the time to toss in the trash any sections of the box with food contamination, then recycle the rest. Most of the time, the entire lid of a box remains clean and is perfectly safe to recycle.
When it comes to composting, have no fear that the small amount of grease and food particles left on a pizza box will be harmful to the process.
By following the steps in this helpful guide, you can reduce your household waste by turning those pizza boxes into excellent compost.
Now you can enjoy your pizza guilt-free and help your garden and the environment in the process!