Can You Compost Pizza Boxes
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Are Pizza Boxes Compostable? And Tips for Recycling Pizza Boxes

Who doesn’t love some good takeaway pizza? The disadvantage is the pizza box that comes with them. If you are on the zero-waste journey, you might ask the questions: What do you do with your used delivery pizza boxes? Are pizza boxes compostable? Can you recycle them?  

This article will answer these questions to help you deal with your pizza boxes and maintain a clean and healthy environment. 

Are pizza boxes compostable? 

Yes, you can compost pizza boxes. However, there are a few steps to follow to compost them correctly.

Food particles are one of the worst contaminants in the paper recycling process. It is very rare to find the cardboard boxes that pizza's come in not containing greasy parts or cheese stuck at the bottom of the box. As a result, most recycling centers might not accept them, and therefore, composting is one of the best ways to get rid of them. 

If your cardboard pizza box has small amounts of ink printing, it is still safe to compost them without worrying about any contamination. However, it might be slightly unsafe if they contain a large amount of ink, as this can contaminate the soil. It is best to throw wax-coated cardboard or corrugated plastic pizza boxes in the trash can, as these boxes cannot break down. 

Composting your pizza box reduces landfill waste which reduces harmful greenhouse gas emissions. Also, composting provides some brown compost material to offset your green compost material. Read more in our article on what you can and can't compost for the perfect mix of browns and greens.

How to compost pizza boxes 

So how can you compost pizza boxes? You can add food waste, soiled paper, paper fibers, and yard waste to your compost cart. Your greasy pizza boxes also work well in a compost bin. The grease does not contaminate your compost cart in any way. As such, adding them to other compostable materials is one of the easiest ways to get rid of them. 

Here are the steps you're best to follow:

  • The first step is to remove any other material like plastic or wax paper attached to your cardboard pizza box. Clear out any remnants or crumbs. However, you can leave any compostable leftovers stuck to the box, including food scraps or grease.
  • Next, you can throw the whole box into the compost pile. However, we recommend that you cut your pizza box into smaller pieces to help it break down into compost quickly.
  • Next, mix the small pieces of cardboard boxes and make sure the greasy parts mix well with the clean parts. Add this mixture to your compost. Ensure you add some green ingredients and balance the ratio of green to brown materials. 
  • To help your compost materials break down faster, mix and turn them every few days to allow air, moisture, and heat to permeate your compost pile. Your cardboard box should decompose in one to three months. The compost leftovers are soil nutrients you can add to your garden. 

Are pizza boxes recyclable? 

Pile of pizza boxes
Photo by Lukas Bee. on Unsplash

Can you recycle pizza boxes? Most pizza boxes are made with corrugated cardboard and are recyclable, just like paper products. However, there’s a tricky part, and your whole pizza box might not make the recycling cut.  

It is common to find greasy marks, oil, and cheese stuck to your pizza boxes. While most recycling centers may allow you to drop off your cardboard and paper products in the recycling bin, most centers avoid greasy boxes with stuck-on food. This can completely affect the entire batch of the paper recycling process. 

Paper and cardboard materials like paper plates and the boxes pizzas come in need to be soaked and mixed with water and chemicals to soften the fibers. If your pizza boxes are full of grease, they won’t get mixed with water. Also, the pulp won’t separate from the oil properly. If this happens, the whole batch is completely ruined.

The best way to recycle your pizza box is to cut the clean bits and separate them from the greasy bits. The top lid of the box will most likely be clean, so you can add them to your curbside recycling in the normal way. The rest of the cardboard box stained with grease cannot be recycled and should be composted or thrown in the bin. 

Related: Many of us accompany our pizza feasts with paper towels. For what to do with these after you're done, we cover whether can you recycle paper towels in detail. And you might also like our options for reusable paper towels for more eco-friendly options that minimize paper waste.

Can you throw your pizza boxes in the green bin? 

In some countries, people can place compostable and biodegradable waste in what is called the green bin. These are large containers that collect different materials that are biodegradable and compostable. This could be food waste that would otherwise end up in a landfill.

So if you don’t have a composter or a garden space, you can easily throw your dirty pizza box and any food crumbs in the green bin. 

However, it is important to note that not all countries have the color green for these types of bins. For example, in Spain, this type of bin is brown. So it is important to do a little quick research to ensure you are putting your organic waste in the right bin. 

Further, different countries have different criteria for what can and can't go in the green bin. For example, you might assume that items like tea bags and beverage containers can easily go in the green bin. However, because tea bags contain plastic and drink containers are lined with plastic film to hold liquid, this isn't always possible.

How to reuse your pizza boxes

Alternatively, you can reuse your pizza box and avoid landfill waste. Here are a few creative ways to make use of your pizza cardboard box: 

Use as a laptop stand

Your box can make a great laptop stand. All you need to do is ensure it is free of any food particles, flatten the entire box completely, fold it together to form a slope, and fold a small edge at the bottom to prevent the laptop from slipping off. You can also drill a small hole at the back to pass your laptop charger through and give it a paint for a look to suit your decor.

Use as a bed for your cat 

Cats like boxes. You can cut the lid off or close the box or flatten the box completely to create a bed for your cat. You can also add a blanket for extra comfort. This will also help you save a little cash that you would otherwise use to buy an expensive cat bed. 

Use as a desk organizer 

You can use them as desk organizers. Simply put them on your desk or nightstand to store some receipts, stationeries, or items that will typically be lying around your desk. 

Use for your kid’s art easel

An art easel can be a bit expensive. Also, your kids might likely abandon them once they get bored. Alternatively, you can use your pizza boxes to make an art easel for your artsy kids to explore their creativity. 

Use as a pizza tray

If you have some friends over for a get-together, you can cut out your pizza box and use them as a plate or serving tray for pizza. So no need to worry about melting cheese, sauce, or food particles.  


Instead of throwing your pizza boxes in the trash can, you can easily add them to your compost cart to decompose. As we mentioned above, you want to avoid throwing your greasy boxes in the recycling bin, as this can contaminate the entire recycling process. 

With so much waste on our planet, it is essential to avoid single-use items and adopt a zero-waste lifestyle. 

By Jennifer Okafor, BSc.

Jen’s a passionate environmentalist and sustainability expert. With a science degree from Babcock University Jen loves applying her research skills to craft editorial that connects with our global changemaker and readership audiences centered around topics including zero waste, sustainability, climate change, and biodiversity.

Elsewhere Jen’s interests include the role that future technology and data have in helping us solve some of the planet’s biggest challenges.

Photo by Hello I'm Nik on Unsplash
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