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AF&PA and Industry Partners Aim to Set the Record Straight – Pizza Boxes Are Recyclable, Grease and Cheese Not an Issue

Jul 13, 2020

CONTACT: Lindsay Murphy / Tim Ebner
(202) 463-2587, comm@afandpa.org

WASHINGTON – The American Forest & Paper Association (AF&PA) today released new industry guidance that aims to clear up consumer confusion regarding the recyclability of pizza boxes. The guidance resulted from a study conducted by WestRock – an AF&PA member company – that found the presence of grease and cheese at levels typically found on pizza boxes does not impact manufacturing in a negative way.

“Corrugated pizza boxes are successfully recycled every day at paper mills throughout the country, yet consumers remain confused by mixed messages suggesting that some boxes should not be put in the recycle bin,” said AF&PA President and CEO Heidi Brock. “So, let’s be clear: pizza boxes are recyclable. Consumers should not be concerned about grease or cheese – simply remove any leftover pizza and place the box in the recycle bin. We encourage communities to update their residential recycling programs guidelines to explicitly accept pizza boxes that are free of food.” 

In a recent membership-wide survey, AF&PA members representing 93.6 percent of the total amount of Old Corrugated Containers consumed by member companies, said they accept corrugated pizza boxes for recycling.

Various industry partners are joining AF&PA in the call for consumers to recycle their pizza boxes:

“When speaking at recycling conferences, the question I’m asked most often is: ‘Are pizza boxes recyclable,’” said Dennis Colley, President and CEO of the Fibre Box Association. “This guidance from AF&PA should give municipalities, recycling centers and households the information they need to confidently recycle pizza boxes.”

“AICC applauds the work of AF&PA, its members and our fellow organizations in continuing to provide clarifying information on this topic,” said Michael M. D’Angelo, President of AICC, The Independent Packaging Association. “It’s important for consumers to understand that the container of one of America’s favorite foods is recyclable. We are pleased to participate in the confirmation of the recyclability of the pizza box and encourage consumers to recycle them as they would any other box.” 

“TAPPI is proud to join with AF&PA to clarify the facts on recycling pizza boxes,” said TAPPI President and CEO Larry N. Montague. “Billions of pizzas are sold in the U.S. every year, which means a lot of pizza boxes need to be recycled. Corrugated pizza boxes are a great fiber source for feedstock in many of our mills today.”

For more information about the recyclability of pizza boxes, including AF&PA’s Pizza Box Recycling Statement, visit PaperRecycles.org.

For more information about WestRock’s study on the impact of grease on recycling post-consumer pizza boxes, visit: https://www.westrock.com/greasecheesestudy   

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The American Forest & Paper Association (AF&PA) serves to advance a sustainable U.S. pulp, paper, packaging, tissue and wood products manufacturing industry through fact-based public policy and marketplace advocacy. AF&PA member companies make products essential for everyday life from renewable and recyclable resources and are committed to continuous improvement through the industry’s sustainability initiative — Better Practices, Better Planet 2020. The forest products industry accounts for approximately four percent of the total U.S. manufacturing GDP, manufactures nearly $300 billion in products annually and employs approximately 950,000 men and women. The industry meets a payroll of approximately $55 billion annually and is among the top 10 manufacturing sector employers in 45 states. Visit AF&PA online at afandpa.org or follow us on Twitter @ForestandPaper.