Pizza might not have been invented in America, but disposable pizza boxes certainly were. Today the cardboard box is a staple of college campuses, corporate lunches, and movie nights. We asked ourselves the question - is it time for a more sustainable option?
Adding up a lot of waste
Approximately 3 billion pizzas are sold in the U.S. each year (Source: The Pizza Joint), and about 2 billion are transported in cardboard pizza boxes (Source: Dupont). That’s a lot of pizza boxes, and even more waste - roughly 674,614,000 lbs. of cardboard boxes. All those pizza boxes are equal to the weight of over 234,000 cars!
Trees shouldn’t be disposable
Even if pizza boxes are made out of 50% recycled content cardboard, it would take over 4,290,000 trees to produce the 2 billion boxes (Source: Environmental Paper). Cutting these trees has important consequences for the health of our planet.
Forests are a critical carbon sink- they absorb and store massive amounts of carbon and keep it from contributing to climate change. When trees are cut down, they release that carbon back into the air. Deforestation and associated land use changes are estimated to cause 10-15% of global carbon emissions (Source: Project Drawdown).
We think forests should foster biodiversity, pollination, and ecotourism - not pizza boxes.
Grease means boxes aren’t recyclable
Can’t we recycle all of this cardboard waste? Actually, greasy pizza boxes are not recyclable. That’s because the oil makes the cardboard fibers less valuable (Source: NY Times). During the recycling process, grease causes oil to form at the top of the slurry, and the paper fibers can’t separate from oils (Source: Earth911).
While clean pizza box lids without grease can go in the recycling bin, not very many people go to the trouble of separating their pizza boxes into two streams. If the pizza box has a plastic tent or “pizza saver”, these are not recyclable, and will contaminate the recycling bin.
Pizza boxes can be composted as long as they don’t have any plastic coatings or toxic inks- something that the average person likely won’t be able to spot.
PizzaRound: tree-free and clearly compostable
The World Centric PizzaRound is the first 100% tree-free, plant-based, compostable pizza container. It’s made from 80% sugarcane and 20% bamboo – both renewable resources. Sugarcane pulp is left over during the sugar extraction process, and bamboo is one of the world’s fastest growing plants. Using non-timber materials helps to protect forests and nearby communities.
With a fully compostable container, leftover pizza crusts are more likely to get composted, too. A 2017 study from the Sustainable Packaging Coalition found that “compostable packaging can help deliver maximum food scraps to compostables bins” (Source: GreenBlue). It’s simpler to put everything into one bin, without having to separate or sort items.
A pizza box leaves you wondering whether it goes in the compost, recycling, or trash. Now you can close the loop on pizza waste with the PizzaRound.