Tuesday, December 8, 2009

The Truth about Pizza...

It is delicious.  That's a fact.

But I learned something else today about pizza that is worthy of sharing.  (Because we all already know truth #1!)

The box that your delicious, steamy, cheesy, gooey goodness comes in is in every essence, completely and totally recyclable. However, the stuck on dried cheese, grease stains, and sauce drips are not.  Not in any way shape or form.  

In fact, any paper product that you try to recycle that has left over food on it immediately becomes a contaminate to the paper recycling process.  And that is bad. Very bad.

When the paper goes into processing, it is mixed with water to reconstitute the pulp.  But water and oil do not mix, so the oils from food and grease rise to the top of the pulp mixture making it impossible to mix properly thus destroying the entire batch.

Things that are therefore not recyclable include:  used paper napkins, used paper towels, used paper plates, newspaper with food on it (fish and chips?) paper hamburger wrappers, food stained paper hot dog trays, etc. etc. etc.

There are really two issues then. The first being to educate the public that food and food stains are not recyclable, and a simple rinsing, or tearing away of the soiled area are simple solutions to making their recycling efforts viable.  (and by "public" I mean "me.") The second issue is that by not removing the food contaminates, not only are the paper items not being recycled, they are causing hundreds of thousands of other paper recyclables not to be recycled.  Our little pizza boxes.

Here's an excerpt from Earth911 (where I learned all this information!!)
"(Contamination) in the recycling business is a big problem. Some estimates put the costs of irresponsible contamination in the neighborhood of $700 million per year industry-wide. Gellenbeck (Terry Gellenbeck, a solid waste administrative analyst for the City of Phoenix) estimates that for the City of Phoenix, contamination costs them around $1 million annually, because of damage to machinery, disposal costs for the non-recyclable material and wasted time, materials and efficiency. With the City processing 129,000 tons of materials in 2008 (around 7 percent of this is cardboard), money is an important factor as to why residents should know what their municipalities do and do not accept."

It's probably good practice to clean off your recyclables anyway- paper, glass, and plastic.  After all, recycling is an effort, and what's the point of making the effort if it's not doing any good and is instead just doing harm.  

That's totally counter productive. And that's bad. Very bad.