Pizza boxes, fast food cardboard and similar

by Michael Smith (Veshengro)

On those boxes we can see greenwash in action almost in the extreme.

HTB1vYsIHFXXXXXrXFXXq6xXFXXXBAll those containers are marked with the recyclable logo and the imprint “recyclable” and while they are recyclable when they haven't been used the fact is that, once those containers have come into contact with foods, which is the case once they are in our hands, and thus have gotten food residue and/or fat on them, they can no longer be recycled.

Should they end up thrown into a bin for recycled paper and card the entire contents therein is considered contaminated and is sent to landfill as it cannot be used in the production of new paper or cardboard.

This is about the same kind of greenwash that we are faced with with regards to the so-called compostable plastic bags, disposable cutlery and such. While the latter may be compostable they are not in a general composting environment but only in commercial hot composting plants.

So, if the consumer believes the message on the boxes he or she will throw it into the paper and card recycling thus contaminating the entire batch which is then going to landfill instead of recycling.

At many catering establishments the same happens on a much larger scale where the staff is either unaware – or uncaring – throwing all paper and card into the paper recycling leading, again, to entire loads of paper and card to be sent to landfill instead of to where it really should be going.

The main problem is also that the message is not given out to households, as well as businesses, that even the slightest “contamination” will cause the entire batch to be not recyclable.

This does not only apply to fast food packaging. Your cardboard cake box, the “paper” bag with croissants, Danish pastries, or such from the bakers, the paper wrapper from the chips shop, and more, also are not recyclable.

When it comes to ordinary recycling of paper the fat and other residues on those items, which is seen as contamination, make this impossible but we must find a solution so that this stuff does not have to be sent to landfill.

It must be possible to even recover contaminated batches and either sort through them – manually – to recover the useable paper and card or, alternatively, have that paper and card go to a composting plant. Even, though I am no engineer, it should be possible, I would think, to take that material and pulp it for fire logs, insulation material for various applications including houses, or such.

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