Whence Comes the Pizza Box: Waste-Paper Alchemy

According to, “The newspapers, cereal boxes and junk mail that Staten Islanders set at the curb every day for recycling come back to them, often in 10 days.”

“Only then it’s in the form of a white pizza box, holding a steaming pepperoni pie just delivered to their front door. Or a brown cardboard box containing sets of kitchen utensils that a JCPenney truck is bringing to the Staten Island Mall. Each day, Pratt Industries in Travis receives more than 1,000 tons of waste paper from the city Sanitation Department and private suppliers. Twelve hours later, those empty juice containers, diaper boxes and discarded office files are recycled into something quite usable — and environmentally friendly — about 500,000 cardboard boxes, including 300,000 pizza boxes. ‘It’s a very quick turnaround,’ said Jay Hennessey, general manager of Pratt’s paper mill on Victory Boulevard, during a tour recently. ‘If you put it out at the curb, it comes back next week.'”

“Hennessey said it can take as little as a week and a half for waste paper to go from curbside collection to a recycled product in consumers’ hands. Plus, there’s the environmental benefit. The plant’s output saves the equivalent of 17,000 trees a day, said Michael O’Regan, a corporate spokesman for the Conyers, Ga.-based company. It employs about 230 people here, and has annual sales of about $180 million to $200 million.”