City of Philadelphia: Don't put greasy pizza boxes in recycling bin

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Monday, July 17, 2017

PHILADELPHIA (WPVI) -- Philly pizza eaters, don't put those greasy pizza boxes in the recycling bin.

Clean pizza boxes are fine, but greasy is a no-no.

That is the reminder coming from the Philadelphia Streets Department via a video on social media Monday afternoon.

"Did you know you CAN'T recycle greasy pizza boxes? Only the non-greasy cardboard can be recycled. Thanks @philastreets!" the caption to the video posted to the Philly311 account reads.

In a statement to Action News, the City of Philadelphia Recycling Office says, "When recyclables get transported and sorted, oils, food and liquids can contaminate the surrounding paper and cardboard. Contamination makes paper and cardboard less valuable for reuse."

On the Philadelphia Streets' recycling website, the department has a list of what you can recycle and what to keep out of the recycling bin.

Sure enough, greasy pizza boxes is right there under the do not recycle list.

The full list of "What to Keep Out of the Bin" includes:

  • Plastic Bags
  • Styrofoam Food/Beverage Containers and Shipping/Packing Material
  • Food Waste
  • Wet or Food-Soiled Paper
  • Waxed Paper Plates, Cups, and Takeout Containers
  • Greasy Pizza Boxes
  • Tissues, Paper Towels, and Napkins
  • Light Bulbs
  • Porcelain and Non-Container Glass
  • Cassette Tapes (VHS and audio)
  • Garden Hoses
  • Needles and Syringes
  • Electronics

The reasoning for these items is also explained on the site, "These materials have little or no value as raw materials, damage recycling equipment, and can even injure workers. Please leave them out!"

And since you are probably interested on what the Philadelphia Streets Department says you can recycle, here's that list, too:


Emptied and rinsed - caps are OK

  • All Food and Beverage Containers
  • Hard Plastic Takeout Containers
  • Plastic Cold Drink Cups and Lids
  • Detergent and Shampoo Bottles
  • Pump and Spray Bottles
  • Plastic Pails, Buckets, Garden Pots


  • Newspapers and Inserts
  • Magazines, Brochures, and Catalogs
  • Junk Mail, Envelopes, and Writing Paper
  • Scrap Paper
  • Paper Bags
  • Phone Books
  • Paperback Books
  • Greeting Cards and Gift Wrap (non-metallic)


Emptied and rinsed

  • Milk
  • Juice
  • Wine
  • Soups


  • Emptied and rinsed
  • Aluminum, Steel, and Tin Cans
  • Empty Paint Cans
  • Empty Aerosol Cans
  • Metal Trays and Baking Dishes
  • Jar Lids and Bottle Caps
  • Clean Aluminum Foil


Emptied and rinsed - caps are OK

  • All Bottles and Jars


Flattened and free of grease and food

  • Corrugated Cardboard Shipping Boxes
  • Clean Pizza Boxes
  • Paper Towel Rolls
  • Egg Cartons
  • Dry Food Boxes

So why did the city post the video on Monday?

"The City has a bold goal of becoming 90% zero waste and litter-free by 2035, and part of how we plan to achieve this is by generating awareness and educating the residents of Philadelphia about recycling! This is just an example of that," the City tells Action News.

So just remember - if the pizza was not greasy, you can recycle the box, but if you had a greasy pizza, just throw it in the trash and, maybe, sit down for a bit.



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