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As of last month, environmentally conscious pizza lovers of Burlington County, New Jersey can rejoice: Their empty pizza boxes can now be placed at curbside with the rest of their recycling.
But, there is a catch.
The boxes must be free of food waste. In other words, no melted cheese should be stuck to the box. Non-cheesy parts of the box will be accepted.
The county plans to collect 1-2 million pizza boxes each year at the curbside. These can be repurposed to make future pizza boxes.
Paper mills across the country have been searching for more raw material, according to Ann Moore, the county’s recycling coordinator.
“Some of their customers such as Domino’s are upping the amount of recycled content they use in their boxes,” she said.
Pizza boxes are recyclable in most instances
Many pizza chains are already striving to be environmentally conscious.
Domino’s Pizza says it increased the amount of recycled content in their boxes from 40% to 72% in 2020.
The pizza giant commissioned a study in partnership with West Rock to explore whether pizza boxes were indeed recyclable. The study found that boxes with less than 2% grease by weight would not affect the quality of the boxes or break recycling machines.
“Pretty much all the mills in the U.S. could take pizza boxes with a little bit of grease, recycle them into new boxes and not have a problem,” Moore added.
Burlington County officials said the county’s residents are environmentally conscious. Glass from the county’s recycling plant contributed to the fill material used in the emergency repair of I-95 in Philadelphia over the summer.
“We’re taking this step knowing that we’ve got a committed population of people that do try and do it right,” Moore said.