Can I recycle? We ate the pizza; now what to do with the box?


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Can I recycle those thick, glossy postcards sent by real estate agents? Is it true that soda bottles are recyclable but the twist-off caps are not? If I’m recycling a spaghetti sauce container, should I separate the metal lid from the glass jar?

This week we start a new feature that answers readers’ recycling questions and dispels common urban legends about our household trash. Our first subject: the humble pizza box. (Watch for the icon at left for future columns.)


Your typical box is made of corrugated cardboard, which is recyclable. The interior, however, is often littered with greasy waxed paper and uneaten crusts — and that weird little plastic thingy known as a box support. Plus the cardboard itself is often smeared with grease or dotted with melted cheese.

Recyclable? The Los Angeles Bureau of Sanitation advises L.A. residents to put the pizza box in the blue bin as long as the waxed paper, box support and pizza remnants have been cleared out. No cheese residue can remain. Minor splotches of grease are OK, but any part of the box with major grease stains should go with trash in the black bin, bound for a landfill.

Excess grease can contaminate other recyclables — most notably paper — in the recycling system. For the city to get the most money for its waste paper, it needs to be clean and dry.

If the plastic box support has a recycling symbol, it can go in the blue bin.

Because policies and recommendations can vary from city to city, each week we’ll ask a sampling of officials from different municipalities to weigh in too. Can you recycle a pizza box in …

Glendale? Yes, if it isn’t greasy.

Burbank? Yes, if it isn’t greasy.

Torrance? Yes, if it isn’t greasy.

-- Susan Carpenter

Illustration by Steve Sedam / For The Times