News World Recyclable objects: The myth behind pizza boxes, coffee cups and take-away containers

Recyclable objects: The myth behind pizza boxes, coffee cups and take-away containers

The oil on pizza boxes prevent the paper fibres from separating. Photo: Getty
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Recycling bins can be found in most parks, city streets and shopping centres across the nation.

In Australian homes, recycling has become second nature but are we actually recycling the right waste?

According to National Recycling Week, 51 per cent of waste gets recycled in Australia. This is similar to recycling rates in northern European countries.

Are pizza boxes recyclable?

To a degree, pizza boxes are recyclable but they may impose a problem because of contamination issues.

Too much grease and oil can effect the quality of the pulped cardboard. This could ruin a batch of potentially reusable paper.

However, removing every food scrap from the box and tearing off the lid allows a pizza box to be recyclable.

 Are coffee cups recyclable?

Most coffee cups are not recyclable due to the physical make of the cup.

Once they reach the Material Recycling Facilities (MCF), most are manually taken out due to contamination of coffee bean residue.

They can take up to 50 years to break down.

Paper based cups are not recyclable as they are lined with plastic to make them waterproof. However, you can recycle wax free coated cups and biodegradable cups.

One of Australia’s leading environmental behaviour change organisations Planet Ark, recommend separating the lids and putting all coffee cups in the waste bin to decrease contamination of other recyclable items.

Coffee cups are estimated to be the second-largest contributor to litter waste after plastic bottles.
Coffee cups are estimated to be the second largest contributor to waste. Photo: Getty

Are take-away containers recyclable?

Good news! Plastic take-away containers are recyclable – just as long as the grease from your fried rice or noodle dish is washed off.

According to SUEZ, “It is estimated that marine waste, mostly plastic, is killing more than a million sea birds and 100,000 mammals every year”.

Apart from saving marine life, producing plastics from recycled materials saves approximately 88 per cent of energy that is used to make plastic from raw materials including oil and gas.

How do other countries recycle?

  • Sweden uses garbage to create heat and electricity. This burnt waste powers a quarter of a million homes.
  • Germany has a recycling bin for dead animals that have died on the side of the road. Those animals are rendered down for their fat which is then made into lip balms.
  • Switzerland charges a fee for mandatory recycling bags that are used to dispose garbage. The bags can cost over $10 – depending on the size.