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Blog: Studying the Recyclability of Pizza Boxes

PizzaBoxRecycling.com launch fueled by new studies and new messaging resources

One of the heated debates we hear in recycling is whether or not pizza boxes are recyclable. A new study by corrugated pizza box manufacturers, processors, and discussions with paper mills found that grease and residual cheese are not a problem in the recycling process. Just like other boxes, as long as they are empty, pizza boxes provide valuable feedstock for new paper-based packaging.

The Recycling Partnership dug a little deeper. We surveyed 1,400 people across the U.S.

  • About half eat pizza once a month or more (this survey was conducted prior to Covid-19).
  • Most people believe pizza boxes should be recycled.
  • When asked whether or not they empty their pizza boxes, 77% said they always empty their pizza boxes but 10% didn’t know they needed to empty their boxes and 15% more didn’t know food cannot go in recycling.
  • Most people are not sure if the accepted materials list for their program has changed in the past few years, but 87% trust their program is being responsible if they do add or remove items.
  • More than half say they will look for more information if they are not sure about whether or not to recycle an item. One in four people say they just recycle it. (We looked into whether or not people are searching online for answers about pizza boxes but found very few are searching.)


What is clear, is that residents are interested, hungry for guidance, and confident in their knowledge — but not always accurate. In order to support clear and compelling information, we went one step further. We created and tested messaging, resources, and videos that you can use for free in your social media. Additionally, we updated our customizable Campaign Builder and DIY Sign templates to include paper images with and without pizza boxes.

Check out the resources and start with our decision tool. No matter where a community and its MRF land regarding acceptability, these studies and resources arm recycling programs with what they need to keep users informed. 

The Recycling Partnership is a national nonprofit that works with companies, communities, and policymakers to strengthen recycling across the United States. Our world needs solutions to repair the economy in a way that protects both the planet and its people. We work to create resilient, effective recycling programs that allow for more jobs, more valuable materials to be returned to our economy, and fewer environmental impacts.


Download our MRF Survey here.