Earn Your PhD in Pizza Box Recycling

Earn Your PhD in Pizza Box Recycling

As business leaders continue to encourage remote workers to return to the office, many are offering incentives to temp their employees back in. There is reason to be hopeful their tactics will influence U.S. workers to leave their home offices.

According to a recent Wall Street Journal article, office attendance has returned to 70% in Europe and as much as 90% in the Middle East. Some Asian cities are even experiencing a 110% increase, meaning 10% more workers have returned to office facilities than before the pandemic. 

If these trends take hold in the United States, a return to the office would help cleaning contractors who have been struggling financially since the pandemic. However, it would also increase the number of boxed pizzas delivered to office buildings around the country.

What? What do pizza boxes have to do with workers returning to the office?

Keep incentives out of the landfill

 According to an article in Fortune Magazine, pizza parties are among the slew of incentives employers are using to get people back into the office. However, sustainability-focused cleaning contractors and facility managers realize these pizza parties may pose some waste issues.

The U.S. pizzeria industry uses approximately 3 billion corrugated pizza boxes each year, with a massive number of those boxes delivered to office locations. Simply tossing those used pizza boxes into trash cans adds to overflowing landfills.

Cleaning professionals and managers need to take a different approach. When it comes to disposing of pizza boxes, they need Ph.D.s—Pizza (box) Handling Directions.

Practice post-party recycling

Here’s how to earn your Ph.D.:

  • Let building owners and custodians know that pizza boxes are made of corrugated cardboard, which is recyclable. Domino’s Pizza provides a directory listing all the recycling centers by zip code that recycle pizza boxes.
  • Place the empty boxes in your facility’s recycling bins, making sure your facility has bins that are large enough to store the boxes.
  • In most cases, used pizza boxes have a small amount of grease on them that does not interfere with recycling. However, be sure to toss any boxes that are heavily coated with oil into the trash.
  • Toss any leftover pizza in the trash—or better yet—in the compost bin.
  • After several pizza parties, clean the recycling bin, using a degreaser if necessary.

Look for extra toppings

Before recycling pizza boxes, check if they have a foil liner at the bottom. These liners are often made of aluminum foil, parchment paper, or wax paper. Whatever the material, it is best to dispose of these liners as waste. They typically have too much grease on them to be recycled.

Many pizzerias place a “pizza saver” in the box. A pizza saver is a plastic, three-pronged post with a flat top that is placed directly in the pizza. It keeps the top lid of the box from coming into contact with the pizza toppings. Usually, these can be recycled. However, the Sierra Club suggests pizza savers are too small to be recycled and should be tossed in the trash.

Most pizzerias staple advertising materials to their boxes. These menus and coupons are entirely recyclable; the staples do not need to be removed. When the box is recycled, the staples will be removed and disposed of as waste.

Graduate with a sustainability Ph.D.

Your Ph.D. comes with environmental benefits. Each used pizza box can be recycled up to seven times before it must be trashed. This delays cardboard boxes from entering landfills. And by the time the boxes need to be tossed, the fibers have thinned out to the point that they degrade faster, helping reduce the amount of waste in landfills.

So go ahead and enjoy the next office pizza party. Knowing the boxes won’t significantly contribute to your facility’s trash output will make the pizzas taste even better.


Posted On March 30, 2023

Michael Wilson

Vice President of Marketing and Packaging, AFFLINK

Michael Wilson is AFFLINK’s vice president of marketing and packaging. He has been with the organization since 2005 and provides strategic leadership for the entire supply chain team. He can be reached through his company website at

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Earn Your PhD in Pizza Box Recycling
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