Recycling: The Pizza Problem

According to a report on RochesterCityNewspaper.com, “When County Executive Maggie Brooks rolled out the county’s new recycling campaign in July, she said the goal was to bring attention to the variety of paper products that residents can put in their bins, and to generate 10,000 additional tons of paper a year.”

“Among the paper products the county says that it will collect for recycling are pizza boxes.”

“‘Most pizza boxes are recyclable, the cleaner the better,’ says county spokesman Noah Lebowitz.”

“Only heavily soiled boxes aren’t recyclable, he says. But Irondequoit resident Jeff Goldblatt, a recycling and waste-reduction advocate, says residents should not toss whole, empty pizza boxes into recycling bins. They should just cut off the unsoiled tops, he says, and recycle those. The grease that settles on the bottom of the box is too difficult for mills to rinse off the paper fibers, he says. That’s not Goldblatt’s only gripe with the campaign. Television advertisements, which are part of the effort, feature Waste Management trucks, including clear views of the company logo. That gives the appearance that the county is implicitly endorsing the company, perhaps over local haulers, he says. The county should have used nondescript equipment for the ads, he says. The county went with the Waste Management vehicles for two reasons, Lebowitz says: Waste Management is the county’s “partner” at Mill Seat Landfill, and it offered the vehicles and staff free of charge.”