The Life of a Pizza Box

Pagliacci’s box top describes the life cycle of a pizza box.

Don’t you just love pizza boxes? They are the unsung hero of busy/lazy food eaters everywhere and we need to take a moment out of our busy schedules to pay respect. At their most basic, pizza boxes transport food from oven to hungry person, but some boxes go the extra mile. There’s a whole world of engineering and design that happen behind the scenes and this box from Pagliacci Pizza in Seattle, WA is a testament to that process.

The box itself is a pretty standard corrugated unbleached Michigan-style unit. That means it’s your basic cardboard box. Bleached paper is white and looks nice with printing, but this box keeps it simple with its natural finish. Michigan-style (aka Walker Lock) just means the front flap folks over itself to hold in the side flaps, which creates a sturdy structural element that can stand up to the weight of multiple pizzas in a stack. [I’m pretty sure it’s called Michigan Style because it was first used for a Michigan-based pizza company called Domino’s.]

But the story of this box is more about what’s on top. The graphic describes the entire process from tree to paper mill to pizza box to compost heap. Here’s a quick rundown of the text:

1. Leftovers from sawmills and the lumber industry in the Pacific Northwest are collected for use.

2. Port Townsend Paper (maxes a cocktail of 50% sawmill leftovers and 50% post-consumer materials (stuff you throw into your paper recycling bin).

3. Crown Packaging takes the recycled paper cocktail from Port Townsend Paper to make pizza boxes. They are printed with water-based inks, which break down in compost.

4. Boxes travel about 220 km to Pagliacci Pizza in Seattle, WA. This is the farthest trip of any part of the process. That’s pretty dang local!

This box even tells you WHERE to compost your box!

Step #5 is especially neat-o because it reminds pizza lovers that the garbage can isn’t the optimal final resting place for a pizza box. Composting is the BEST way to rid yourself of pesky boxes because it manages food particles and grease stuck to the cardboard. Recycling with your other boxes and paper can be problematic because of those lumps of caked-on cheese. Check with your municipality to find out what they recommend you do with your pizza box.

Pagliacci’s box also has this FSC park on the bottom. That means this carton has been certified by a non-governmental, non-profit, independent organization that aims to promote the responsible use of our planet’s forests. Pretty cool!

If you would like to report the sighting of an amazing pizza box, please contact me through my New York Pizza Tour website.


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