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Super Bowl food: Yes, you can recycle those greasy pizza boxes

Addie Broyles
Austin 360
A recent study found that most American paper recycling facilities are able to recycle corrugated cardboard from pizza boxes, even if they are soiled from grease or cheese.

Americans will consume more than 12 million pizzas for the Super Bowl, and millions of those pizza boxes will end up in a landfill.

But the recycling industry is changing its tune on what Americans should do with used pizza boxes. A new study commissioned by WestRock, a corrugated paper company, says that there is "no significant technical reason to prohibit post-consumer pizza boxes from the recycle stream.”

The company and several waste-related nonprofits are encouraging pizza lovers ahead of the Super Bowl to keep corrugated cardboard out of landfills by putting pizza boxes in their recycling or composting bin.

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Austin Resource Recovery is still pushing customers to put their pizza boxes in the composting bin, but that 2020 study found that 73% of the U.S. population has access to recycling programs that could accept the containers, which would give them a second life beyond being turned into compost.

“For years, we’ve been told, ‘Well, if you’ve got a greasy, cheesy pizza box, throw it in the trash because it’s soiled and will contaminate our recycling stream,’ but corrugated cardboard is a very valuable commodity,” Valerie Salinas-Davis, co-director of a new nonprofit called WasteLessWednesday, said in a release.

If you're putting pizza boxes in the composting, be sure to remove the plastic "pizza saver" and any other inorganic material in the box. 

If in doubt, you can tear off and recycle the lid in the blue bin and compost the soiled bottom in the green composting bin.