Pizza box contamination doesn’t impede recyclability, association says

The American Forest & Paper Association, Washington, has released industry guidance that aims to clear up consumer confusion regarding the recyclability of pizza boxes. The guidance resulted from a study conducted by WestRock, a corrugated packaging company based in Atlanta.

According to WestRock, 3 billion pizza boxes are placed on the market in the U.S. annually, equating to 600,000 tons of corrugated board. Pizza boxes represent 1.7 percent of the 35.9 million tons of all corrugated containerboard produced in the U.S. annually. If all pizza boxes were recovered for recycling, they would represent about 2.6 percent of the old corrugated containers, or OCC, stream, WestRock states.

To evaluate the average grease level in pizza boxes received by recycling facilities, several WestRock single-stream material recovery facilities pulled these items out of their incoming streams and took pictures of their interiors.

WestRock reports that the strength loss of the resulting product made with recovered fiber that incorporates post- consumer pizza boxes should be minimal at typical levels of grease expected to be received in a recycling facility and when included in the recovered fiber at expected levels of less than 3 percent furnish.

WestRock’s study on the impact of grease on postconsumer pizza box recycling is available at

Domino’s, Ann Arbor, Michigan, and WestRock, its primary box supplier, have launched to share facts about pizza box recycling. The website provides information on pizza box recycling and a guide for what to do if a customer’s community does not accept pizza boxes for recycling.

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BIR study shows role of recovered fiber in paper and board production

The Bureau of International Recycling (BIR), Brussels, has released a new study on recovered paper markets titled, “Paper and Board Recycling in 2018,” that provides insight into key global recovered fiber trends based on data from 2018.

According to the analysis, 50.2 percent of global paper and board production in 2018 was made of recovered fiber. Of the 211 million metric tons of paper and board produced using recovered fiber, about 86 percent were used for packaging materials, while newsprint accounted for 5 percent, printing and writing paper accounted for 4 percent and tissue accounted for 4 percent.

The European Recycling Industries’ Confederation supported BIR in assimilating data from a number of sources, including Fastmarkets RISI, the Confederation of European Paper Industries and divisional information sources.

“From our statistical base camp, we have set out to make reasoned calculations that have enabled us to quantify the massive contribution made by recycled fibers as an environmentally beneficial component of global paper and board production,” Jean-Luc Petithuguenin, BIR Paper Division President and an executive at France-based Paprec, writes in the introduction to the BIR report.

According to the analysis, more than 250 million metric tons of recovered paper were produced worldwide in 2018, of which Asia accounted for some 43 percent, Europe approached 27 percent and North America neared 21 percent. Despite a 38 percent year-over-year fall in Chinese imports in 2018, Asia remained the main export outlet for European and U.S. recovered fiber.

BIR’s report also includes statistics on pulp and on paper and board production by product segment.

The data illustrate the importance of recovered fiber in the production of paper and board around the world. The report also identifies the scope for significant increases in the use of recovered fibers, including in the printing and writing segment and in some emerging regions of the world.

View the full BIR report at