Pizza night is a great tradition in many American households – and this year, an especially popular option for consumers staying home or scaling back on restaurant dining during COVID-19 restrictions. In July, we learned that pizza lovers have one more reason to feel good about embracing pizza night. It is now official and agreed on – pizza boxes are recyclable.

The news, released last month by the American Forest and Paper Association (AF&PA), corrects a common misconception: the belief that cheese and grease stuck to the boxes would negatively impact recyclability. A study by WestRock, an AF&PA and Fibre Box Association (FBA) member company, found that typical amounts of cheese and grease are acceptable, and paper mills that recycle boxes concurred.

Industry agreement clears the way for positive action to increase recovery of old corrugated containers (OCC) in recycling programs. There are approximately 3 billion pizza boxes used in the U.S., which represents an estimated 600,000 tons of highly desired corrugated material that should be recycled and not needlessly wasted.

To help spread the word on pizza box recycling, several organizations have made information and tools available to help consumers, pizza purveyors, cities and towns, and recyclers get on board with recycling pizza boxes. Below are links to where you can find information to share this slice of goodness:

The Recycling Partnership’s Pizza Box Recycling Toolkit
Domino’s Recycle My Pizza Box
AF&PA’s Pizza Box Recycling Page

In addition, FBA is supporting and augmenting these efforts with advertising and social media posts. Look for digital and print advertising in several publications:

• PMQ, Pizza Today and which reach small and large pizza box users such as Little Caesar’s, Pizza Hut, Papa John’s and others.
• Resource Recycling and Recycling Today which reach municipalities and the recycling community.
• And Supermarket News and BXP Magazine which reach retailers and brand owners.

Collectively these publications ensure FBA is sharing the pizza box recycling message across a broad audience. Digital advertising began in early August with print ads appearing in August and September issues.

On the social media front, FBA began sharing the news as soon as AF&PA’s press release hit the newswire. We have continued to like and share posts from AF&PA, articles that picked up the news, and our own original content including how to steps for pizza box recycling and two short videos.

“When speaking at recycling conferences, the question I’m asked most often is: ‘Are pizza boxes recyclable,’” said Dennis Colley, President and CEO of the Fibre Box Association. “This guidance from AF&PA should give municipalities, recycling centers and households the information they need to confidently recycle pizza boxes.”

More than 90% of the corrugated produced each year is successfully recovered for recycling, but the shift from retail/restaurants to home delivery moves more boxes to households and out of the well-established, commercial recovery stream. Collecting pizza boxes in residential recycling programs will make more recovered fiber available for manufacturing new boxes – needed to support the viability of all supply chains, in all industries, which rely on boxes to transport products of all kinds.

And that’s a slice for goodness for consumers, the supply chain and the planet.

Senior Vice President, Fibre Box Association