Whether you like to admit it or not, we humans are unapologetically creatures of habit. You wake up at the same time every day, do the same things, eat the same food; it’s a cycle we rarely break out of. We do the same things all the time because it’s safe and comfortable. It’s also why we find it super annoying when they’re out of your go-to sandwich at lunch.
If you’re a decent human being, you would have long already got into the habit of recycling. Bottles, tins and cardboard in one bin and the rest in the other right? It’s fairly easy to do and it stops your general bin from filling up well before bin day. On top of that, you’re being environmentally healthy, wins all around.
What you might not know though is that not all cardboard can be recycled. How is this a problem, I hear you ask? Pizza is the answer, and for once, the cheesy pie is doing more harm than good. I know. Say it ain’t so.
Lucy Watson, reality TV star, vegan and environmental activist, posted on Instagram stories last night the fact that pizza boxes are non-recyclable, due to grease contamination. A big problem, and one which I’m probably responsible for a disturbingly big proportion of the fallout.
According to Stanford University’s department for Recycling Land, Buildings and Real Estate, the corrugated cardboard that pizzas usually come in becomes soiled with oil. Once soiled, the carboard can’t be recycled, because the paper fibers can’t be separated from the oils during the pulping process.
The university department says: “Food or oil contaminated paper is considered a contaminant in the paper recycling bins. Best examples of this are pizza boxes and doughnut boxes. Since the paper is mixed with water in a large churner, the oil eventually separates from the paper fibres. The oil does not dissolve in the water, instead, it mixes in with the paper.”
They continue: “The eventual result is new paper with oil splotches. The mill we take our paper to asks us specifically to not include pizza boxes.” Recycle Now, a government-funded recycling body in the UK, also say pizza boxes should be chucked in the general bin, and not in green ones (for plant waste).
What’s the solution then? Well, you could just cut down on how much takeaway pizza you’re ordering, but I know that’s definitely not going to happen. Supermarket pizza tends to be less greasy, though, and the sheath of film around them avoids any grease touching the cardboard.
If you really want to minimise how much waste you’re producing, then your best option is to have a go at making the pizza yourself. Don’t worry, it’s super easy – all you have to do is create a dough of plain flour, yeast, salt, warm water and olive oil. Then, get to work on what kinds of toppings you want.
After that, pop it in the oven and just watch your cheese melt and your crust brown. Obviously, it takes a little longer to make your own than it does dialling up Domino’s, but in all honesty, in the time it takes for the pizza to actually come to your house, you could have your own version almost ready to eat. You’re also saving the environment, so that’s pretty cool.