Q.1107: Can you recycle Pizza Box or other Food Containers?
Typically pizza boxes are made of recycled fibers. Pizza boxes can be recycled if not contaminated by cheese, grease and or crams of pizza.
Food is one of the worst contaminants in the paper recycling process. During recycling, boxes are mixed with water and turned into a slurry. Since water and oil don't mix, grease from pizza boxes causes oil to form at the top of the slurry, and paper fibers cannot separate from oils during the pulping process. Essentially, this contaminant can causes the entire batch to be ruined. The oil causes major problems for the quality of the paper, especially the binding of the fibers. It causes spots and holes in paper.
Also the pressure sensitive adhesives on the pizza box, coupons, stickers etc. will also create problem in recycling. Clean pizza boxes not contaminated by cheese, grease or crams can be recycled.
Chinese Takeout Food Boxes
Typically Chinese or for same reason any other food takeout boxes and highly contaminated with the food they carry and not worth recycling. If one has the patience and intention to separate contaminated part, non-contaminated part of box can be recycled.
Burger Joint Food Containers
French fries, chicken nuggets/strips, ketchup cups etc. are highly contaminated with oil/grease/ketchup and are not recyclable at this stage.
The rule of thumb is that if it is clean, recycle it, if it is contaminated, it is not worth recycling.