Don’t Recycle Your Pizza Box — Compost It!

pizza box

You may have heard that if it’s cardboard, it’s always recyclable. Or maybe you’ve heard that pizza boxes just need to be tossed in the trash. What’s the real answer? Compost it! In Ukiah, you can put your pizza box in your Mixed Organic Waste with just about anything that comes with it. Use this cheat sheet to find out what to toss and what to compost.


Leftover Pizza or Crumbs

Compost it. All food scraps go in your compost cart.

Food — even at the crumb level — can ruin batches of paper recycling. Can you imagine little bits of pizza crust living in your roll of paper towels? Ew — no. Make sure they end up in your compost cart.


Parchment Paper & Napkins

Compost it. Soiled paper goes in your compost cart.

Whereas cardboard is sometimes recyclable, parchment paper and napkins are never recyclable. Why is that? Their paper fibers are too short to survive the recycling process. However, they can still be turned into something new — fresh organic soil! Just make sure to toss them in your compost cart.


Pizza Savers

Put them in the garbage.

You know the little plastic item that appears in takeout and delivery pizza boxes? This little contraption, which looks like a three-legged table, is called a pizza saver. Pizza savers are responsible for your pizza making it home safe and sound, without the melted cheese sticking to the lid of the pizza box. Without them, we’d all be eating ugly pizzas stripped of their cheese and other delicious toppings.

That said, toss your pizza savers in the trash. They are too small to be recycled, and they can’t be composted.


A Greasy Box

Compost it.

Cardboard that has gotten wet, soaked up grease or has food residue on it goes in your compost cart. Why? It’s what we call contaminated. Basically, the paper fibers are damaged by the grease and they won’t survive the recycling process. What’s worse, greasy fibers can ruin an entire batch of paper recycling.

Don’t toss them in the trash, though! Soiled paper and cardboard can be turned into new organic soil through our composting program, so make sure to toss greasy pizza boxes into your compost cart.


A Clean Box — Or a Clean Lid

If the top half of your pizza box has survived its pizza journey in pristine condition, you can cut or tear it off and recycle it.

If by some small miracle the entire box has pulled through with nary a sign of grease, make sure it’s completely empty, then recycle it.