Scraponomics Episode 131: The Cheesy Pizza Box Incident

May 05, 2016, 01:00 PM

“There’s no better feeling in the world than a warm pizza box on your lap.” — Kevin James, American actor

Every pizza situation is different.

Sometimes you finish eating a pizza, and when you look at the cardboard box, it’s completely clean. (Score!)

And then, sometimes you encounter the cheesy incident, where the cardboard box is laden with cheese and grease.

So how does this affect the ability to recycle it?

Generally, cardboard needs to be clean before we’re able to take it at Friedland. The reason is that the paper mills we send our cardboard to aren’t happy when they receive cardboard that has any food waste or oils on it.

Then what are you suppose to do whilst in the middle of cheesy incident?

Well, a little bit of residual cooking oil on the box is fine. Paper mills aren’t going to gripe too much about that. However, it’s best to get as much cheese off of the box as possible. The process sucks, but it’s necessary.

Now, If you end up with a pizza box that is full of cheese you can’t scrape off and that’s completely soaked in oil — caution, I’m about to say something taboo here — you’re better off throwing it away. Unfortunately, at that point, the cost simply outweighs the benefit of recycling it (at least with current technology).

So is there a way to change this situation?

As with every other commodity, the potential solution lays on multiple fronts. Technology will likely advance enough to where paper mills may be able to have a higher leniency for material that comes in.

Personally, though, I like to consider the other end; how can prevent pizza boxes from getting greasy in the first place? For example, is there something biodegradable we can line them with that makes it easier to capture a cheesy incident without compromising the cardboard?

What do you think?

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