New York City Just Got Its First Pizza Box Recycling Container

It's in Central Park, and more could be on the way

pizza boxes
Traditional garbage cans don't mesh well with pizza boxes.
Horst Galuschka/picture alliance via Getty Images

If you enjoy pizza — which most people do, because it is delicious — you’ve probably encountered the challenge of dealing with old pizza boxes. On one hand, they’re made of cardboard. On the other hand, they’re also a lot larger than most types of recyclable paper — and they may have grease stains on them as well, further complicating matters. There’s a separate issue when it comes to municipal trash and recycling collection — namely, what happens when empty pizza boxes take up all the space in sidewalk trash receptacles?

Some municipal governments have addressed the issue head-on by implementing dedicated recycling containers for used pizza boxes. Covington, Kentucky took that step in 2021 — and now, New York City is joining them. Or at least, part of NYC is doing so.

As Christina Morales reported for The New York Times, the Central Park Conservancy recently unveiled a new type of container to compliment their dedicated garbage and recycling containers. This one is square in shape and is designed to hold pizza boxes. Turns out a lot of people bring pizzas into the park for picnics, and the boxes can leave other trash cans overfilled — hence this new measure.

Just how many pizzas are consumed on an average day in Central Park? According to what the Conservancy told the Times, one region near the Metropolitan Museum of Art can accumulate 100 empty boxes on a given picnic-friendly day.

For now, the Central Park Conservancy is checking the existing container several times per day; once Labor Day arrives, it will make a decision on whether to expand the program. If it results in less trash scattered on the ground and more paper that can ultimately be recycled, it may be money well spent.


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