Kalamazoo has recently joined Portage in adopting a single stream recycling program - a strong statement for a community to make about the future of our environment, without a doubt. But I believe they are making one major mistake.

And that mistake is pizza boxes - big, bulky and cardboard. They certainly sound like they should without a doubt be recycled.

However neither Kalamazoo nor Portage, (or Grand Rapids, for that matter) accept pizza boxes for recycling.

The reason, as the head of recycling efforts in Kent County told M-Live for a 2010 story is food waste on the boxes:

Doug Wood, Kent County's director of public works, said it's the grease on pizza boxes that they are trying to keep out of the system. During the recycling process, cardboard is mixed with water to create a slurry, and oil and water don't mix.

"It's not going to screw everything up," Wood said. "If you think about the volume of material, a bale weighs 1,800 pounds, but it can affect the quality of the product you're selling."

But not every community in the country thinks pizza boxes are destined for the trash.

The city’s switch in 2015 to much larger trash and recyclable bins helped, she said, but there’s still plenty of education that remains to be done such as that pizza boxes are recyclable, ABC is the rule (“all bottles and containers” are recyclable) and junk mail should be recycled.

Indeed, the municipal authority that runs the recycling program in that region of upstate New York says that pizza boxes can, and should, be recycled - simply remove "any food and debris."

Is it really that simple? Pick off a little cheese, remove and trash the liner between the pizza and box then recycle that cardboard.

The cities of Kalamazoo and Portage need to re-think their ban on not recycling cardboard pizza boxes with a little better consumer education that a small step on our part will keep millions of pizza boxes out of our landfills.

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