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Curbside Management • 116 N. Woodfin Avenue • Asheville, NC 28804 • Telephone: 828.252.2532 • Fax: 828.251.2588 • EMAIL


Can do!

In the United States at least, there’s a great divide between the “can-do’s” and the “can’t-dos” on the matter of recycling. It seems that everyone wants to do it, but how much is another matter. The national average for cities’ recycling waste is 34%. That means that 34% of what used to go into landfills is now being recycled. Sounds pretty good, huh? Not to pioneering officials in cities like Asheville, Portland, Seattle and San Francisco. They are now so good at waste diversion, The New York Times reports, “that it is becoming harder to get much better. San Francisco reuses a whopping 78 percent of what enters its waste stream.” Now, that should be good enough, no? “We . . . could theoretically take [it] to 85 percent,” said David Assmann, of San Francisco’s Dept. of the Environment. But how about that last 15 percent? Now there's a challenge.

Residential Services  

Do you have specific questions? We have answers to just about any question you might have about recycling in Western North Carolina. But if you can’t find the answer here, drop us a line and we’ll do our best. For more specifics on recycling on your municipality . . . go to one of these links: ASHEVILLE,FLETCHER, WOODFIN, WEAVERVILLE, or BUNCOMBE COUNTY

REMEMBER: The materials that can be recycled – and their preparation – are the same in all the locations.

The Pizza Box                           Recycling Mystery: Grease is the word.

Grease just might be the word. If you've ever wondered whether all, some or none of your corrugated cardboard box can by recycled — check out our solved mystery.

 Many people assume that pizza boxes are recyclable. In fact, most boxes have recycling symbols on them and are traditionally made from corrugated cardboard. They are, in and of themselves, recyclable.

 However, what makes parts of them non-recyclable is the hot, tasty treat that comes inside them, specifically, the grease and cheese from pizza that soil the cardboard.

 So there you have it, pizza boxes that are tarnished with food, or any paper product that is stained with grease or food, are not recyclable - unless you remove the tainted portions.

 But why is this? And what are the implications for the general, pizza-loving public? Mmmm, pizza!

How it Gets Recycled

Food is one of the worst contaminants in the paper recycling process. Grease and oil are not as big of a problem for plastic, metal and glass, as those materials are recycled using a heat process. But when paper products, like cardboard, are recycled, they are mixed with water and turned into a slurry. Since we all know water and oil don't mix, the issue is clear.

 Grease from pizza boxes causes oil to form at the top of the slurry, and paper fibers cannot separate from oils during the pulping process. Essentially, this contaminant causes the entire batch to be ruined. This is the reason that other food-related items are non-recyclable (used paper plates, used napkins, used paper towels, etc).

 "The oil gets in when you're doing your process of making paper," said Terry Gellenbeck, a solid waste administrative analyst for the City of Phoenix. "The oil causes great problems for the quality of the paper, especially the binding of the fibers. It puts in contaminants, so when they do squeeze the water out, it has spots and holes."

 But what about other things regularly found on paper products, like ink? "Most inks are not petroleum-based so they break down fast. Food is a big problem," he said.

 Also, be mindful of adhesives that may be on the pizza box (coupons, stickers, etc.) because those are contaminants too. Known as "pressure sensitive adhesives (PSAs)" these can ruin the recycling process just as much as oil or food remains.


Many people admit trying to "sneak" their pizza boxes in with cardboard boxes and such. As described above, this does more harm than good because the contaminated cardboard could ruin the whole recycling batch.

 In fact, contamination in the recycling business is a big problem. Some estimates put the costs of irresponsible contamination in the neighborhood of $700 million per year industry-wide. Gellenbeck estimates that for the City of Phoenix, contamination costs them around $1 million annually because of damage to machinery, disposal costs for the non-recyclable material and wasted time, materials and efficiency. With the City processing 129,000 tons of materials in 2008 (around 7 percent of this is cardboard), money is an important factor as to why residents should know what their municipalities do and do not accept.

So, What Do I Do?

The easiest remedy for this problem is to cut or tear out the soiled portions of your pizza boxes and trash them. For example, you can tear the top of the box off, recycle that and throw away the bottom part containing the grease. If the entire box is grease-free, the whole box can be recycled with a guilt-free conscience.

 Another option to recycling cardboard is to compost it, although the grease rule still applies here as well. "Even with oils, you shouldn't compost [greased cardboard]. It causes rotting, you get more bugs and smell and it's just not good for the plants," said Gellenbeck.

 Most importantly, being well-versed on what your local recyclers accept, can make the biggest difference. "It all depends on where your processor sends your paper, too," said Gellenbeck, whose authority applies only to the City of Phoenix. "If you can keep a particular thing like the food out, the plastics out, all those things that really shouldn't be there, it would help."

Adapted from and courtesy of Earth 911 bit.ly/curbiepizza

  Plastic bags and strapping clog up Curbie's recycling machinery, and cause wasted time and equipment damage.  

What may I recycle?

Metal Cans

Aluminum, Steel, Tin

Only food, beverage, personal care or household plastic containers (jugs, tubs, bottles and jars)

Glass Bottles and Jars (clear, brown, green)

Milk & Juice Cartons, Juice Boxes

Mixed Paper

Newspapers, Inserts, Catalogs, Junk mail

Magazines, Cereal Boxes, Egg cartons (paper)

Envelopes, Manila Envelopes / folders

Office paper, Paper, Phone books (remember those?)

Glossy paper, Post-It® Notes, Brown paper bags

Paper towel rolls

Lay flat under bins:

Corrugated cardboard

Can’t do. (Sorry)  

Because we love to recycle, we hate ever to turn anything away, but there actually ARE some things we can’t accept at Curbie. Here are the top ten items that Curbie receives but can’t accept:

x Plastic Bags

x Aluminum foil

x Black microwaveable trays

x Plastic film (bubble and plastic wrap)

x Styrofoam / Packing peanuts

x Dishes

x Mirror and window glass

x Motor oil bottles

x Metal items that are not cans (like frying pans / pots

x Shredded paper

Curbie is now accepting even more recyclable materials.                 

In addition to all the other recyclables we already accept, you may now recycle:

Food, beverage, personal care and household plastic containers—No Styrofoam or Plastic Bags.

NEW! We accept Milk & Juice cartons and Juice Boxes (Gable top cartons and aseptic containers)

Out with the bags                 

Plastic bags and other film plastic are very difficult for Curbie to handle in our Material Recovery Facility. Please keep plastic bags out of recycling carts and drop-off bins. They clog up our equipment and can cause a lot of wasted time and even equipment damage. At least twice a day, we have to shut the entire sorting facility down and send in people with box cutters to cut the plastic bags out by hand.

If you use bags to collect recycling, we encourage you to please empty the items into the cart , but do not include the bag. Better yet, use a tub, box or bucket to collect recycling and reuse it each week.

 Ask these plastics questions to discover what can be recycled: 

1) Is it a container? 

2) Does it have a number? 

3) Does it (vaguely) come from a grocery store?  

If "yes" to all three, then YES is the answer. 

ONLY PLASTIC CONTAINERS: Jugs, tubs,  bottles and jars

· No Plastic Shopping Bags

 · No Plastic Garbage Bags

· No Plastic Film

· No Cereal Liner Bags

· No Ziplock or Sandwich Bags

· No Dry Cleaning Bags

· No Shrink Wrap

· No Plastic Bubble Wrap

· No Chip Bags

· No Six-Pack Beverage Rings

Plastic bags are not currently accepted in the recycling program

• We promote the use of re-useable bags for shopping.

• We encourage people to recycle the bags at Wal-Mart, Ingles, Target etc.

So, NO plastic bags or film of any kind.

The good news is that most grocery stores offer plastic bag recycling.

  Why does the driver leave some materials in the recycling bin?     

Unfortunately, not everything is recyclable. There are certain things like Styrofoam and plastic bags that the program cannot accept. Please see What can I not recycle? to find out exactly what you CAN put in the bin.

It’s simple to find out

what you can recycle.

Curbside Management • 116 N. Woodfin Avenue • Asheville, NC 28804 • Telephone: 828.252.2532 • Fax: 828.251.2588 • EMAIL