Board Converting News, February 8, 2021

What Is It About Pizza Boxes? BY JOHN MULLINDER

What is it about pizza boxes that they always seem to get singled out for special mention? Is it the guilt we feel at scoffing down all that cheese and pepperoni? At tearing into that soft fresh crust knowing full well that

our long-delayed and somewhat erratic weight- loss program will be pushed back a few days, may- be weeks? Especially if that piping hot and mushy mess is washed down with large dollops of ice cream. To cool it off, you understand.

Whatever it is, municipalities seem to go out of their way to make an example of the poor old pizza box. It’s not recyclable, they claim. The paper mills don’t want it. It’s the mountains of grease and cheese. Put it in your or- ganics or food waste bin. At least it will make good compost. There is some truth to that. Paper can be composted, and for some households, composting is likely the better option. Ask the residents of Nova Scotia and Prince Edward Island, who are hundreds of kilometres from the nearest packaging recycling mill. But pizza boxes are perfectly recyclable too. Sure, the recycling mills don’t want the plastic centrepiece that sometimes holds the slices to- gether in the box. (Memo to self: why isn’t this plastic do-hickey made of John Mullinder

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paper so it can be recycled with the box?). Anyway, while the mills great- ly appreciate your kind offer of leftover crusts, they would really prefer that you deal with them yourself. It’s a pride thing. But the box itself is fine. Normally it’s made of corrugated board. And in Canada anyway, that is mostly 100 percent recycled content. So, it’s been around before. And will be around again. What? you say. That gooey, greasy stuff that I kindly left for the paper mill workers will be in my next box? Yuck! No dear friend, it won’t. When it finally gets to a recycling mill, your kind gift is first dumped into a big washing machine called a pulper. It’s not that the mill is ungrateful, it’s just that pizza crust doesn’t make great paper. So, any crust you’ve kindly donated will be shaken free and exit the system. Same for the cheese. It tends to clump together and gets screened out during the pulping process. Aha, but what about the grease? Well, that is a little bit harder to get rid of, but if you thought the pizza was hot, wait until you hear the tem- peratures that paper is made at. In a typical mill recycling process, the temperature of the paper sheet reaches 220 to 240 degrees Fahren- heit, well above 100 degrees Celsius, the boiling point of water and the

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February 8, 2021

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