Home Food + Drink Can You Recycle Pizza Boxes in Hoboken? The Rundown

Can You Recycle Pizza Boxes in Hoboken? The Rundown

by Hoboken Girl Team
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If there’s one thing Hobokenites can agree on, it’s that pizza is one of our basic food groups. Thin-crust, wood-fired, deep-dish – it’s all delicious. Another thing we can agree on is that getting rid of a pizza box is one of life’s eternal mysteries: is it recyclable? Across the river in Manhattan, Central Park has launched specially designed trash cans for pizza boxes. Our team has been debating for a while — and wanted to officially find out whether pizza boxes could be recycled in Hoboken. Read on for more about the special trash cans and how to dispose of pizza boxes in Hoboken

pizza box recycling hoboken

About the Trash Cans

The Central Park Conservancy, the non-profit organization that maintains the park, announced a pilot program of specially designed garbage cans meant to fit pizza boxes. One bin has been installed near the Great Lawn in advance of picnic season, according to a statement from a representative. The pizza boxes are then recycled by the New York City Department of Sanitation, but the special bins help corral the bulky boxes before pickup, according to NBC4NY

“The traditional circular waste bins are simply not designed to accommodate the boxes, leading to jammed cans that can attract rodents. By the end of the summer, the Conservancy will evaluate the pilot to see if it should expand to other Park locations,” the organization shared via a statement.  “This is just one initiative that the Conservancy is working towards to achieve zero waste in Central Park. The goal is to differentiate waste streams, recycle more effectively and send less materials to landfill waste. “

a pizza recycling box is in Central Park

^The pizza recycling bin, on the far right, next to two trash cans by the Great Lawn in Central Park. Photo Credit:  Central Park Conservancy. 

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We found a similar recycling bin available online for approximately $2000, from a Vermont-based company called Recycle Away. “The Pizza Box Recycler was developed in order to prevent pizza boxes from clogging up the recycling streams. It is a common misconception that since pizza boxes are made out of cardboard, they can be recycled together with other mixed materials. In actuality, the oils from pizza hamper the recycling process since they cause unnecessary contamination throughout the recycling process. In order to prevent clogging of waste bins, keep pizza boxes out of them,” the listing reads.

Read More: Where to Get Pizza Dough in Hoboken + Jersey City

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A Wisconsin-based company offers a pizza box recycling bin that can be paired with a compost bin and other customizable options. A Canadian company, Clean River Recycling Solutions, offers a pizza box recycling bin, saying that the bin can be used to “avoid bottlenecks in your recycling stream.”

Cardboard Pizza Boxes – Recyclable or Not?

The Washington Post recently tackled this question, examining popular myths about garbage. According to the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), pizza boxes are recyclable. Per the agency’s website, “Pizza boxes can be recycled, even if they have grease in them. Make sure to remove any food scraps from the box and flatten it before placing it in the bin.”

 


 

WestRock, a corrugated packaging company, shared a scientific study where different levels of grease from cheese were measured to determine the cardboard’s recyclability. The study, Incorporation of Post-Consumer Pizza Boxes in the Recovered Fiber Stream Impacts of Grease and Cheese on Finished Product Quality, was published in 2020 and concluded that there was no significant reason why grease-stained cardboard from pizza boxes couldn’t be recycled. Cheese bits, grease, and other non-cardboard elements would be removed from the cardboard through the recycling process.

 

 
 
 
 
 
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It would seem that while pizza boxes themselves are inherently recyclable, not every recycling processor can handle it.

Hoboken Pizza Box Recycling

For as many pizza places as we have in Hoboken, it seems as if this is a problem that would have been solved already. Hoboken spokesperson Marilyn Baer said, “In Hudson County, pizza boxes are not considered recyclable material as they are typically soiled with grease stains or food.”

fresh frozen pizza dough hoboken jersey city napolis The Hudson County Improvement Authority website says  “Pizza boxes are typically soiled with oil and grease from their delicious contents. This grease can wreak havoc on recycling machines and won’t be accepted. Pizza boxes should be placed in the garbage.”

See More: Your Ultimate Guide to Outdoor Dining in Montclair 

The New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) says it’s a bit more nuanced than a yes/no answer.
“It depends. Some local programs may accept pizza boxes, while others will not. While pizza boxes are typically made of recyclable corrugated cardboard, the problem with recycling these boxes is the food and grease residue that soils and remains in the box.  The grease and oil is particularly problematic in the paper recycling process. Those programs that do accept pizza boxes usually instruct residents to tear off and dispose of those portions of the box that are stained with grease and food and to recycle the remaining clean portions of the box.  It is important, however, to first check with your local recycling program prior to adding these boxes into your recycling container so that you do not unknowingly “contaminate” your load of recyclable materials with unacceptable materials.”

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