Rhode Island Rethinks Recycling of Pizza Boxes


BRISTOL, R.I. __ Until recently, pizza boxes have always been thrown into the trash but now, Rhode Island has changed it’s stance on the disposal of pizza boxes. According to the Rhode Island Resource Recovery Corporation (RIRRC), pizza boxes with minimal grease can now be recycled. Recently, any pizza box that had grease on the box would be considered “contaminated,” and would not be recycled. The policy change now allows a small amount of grease, sauce and cheese to be on the box and still consider it recyclable.

The average American pizzeria uses 55 pizza boxes a day and Classic Pizza and Grill in Bristol, R.I. estimates that they use around 150 to 160 pizza boxes on their busiest nights. With a large number of pizza boxes being used every night, it is important that they are disposed of in the most efficient way possible. The main issue with these new regulations is what makes a heavy or light amount of grease.

The Providence Journal recently posted what a small amount of grease actually is in their “Trash Tutorial” blog.

“What is a small amount of grease? This means no major discoloration of the box, no dripping grease, and the grease isn’t covering the entire bottom portion of the box. A few splotches of grease are fine, as are a few spots of sauce,” said Sarah Kite-Reeves in the blog.

Krystal Noiseoux, Recycling Program Manager at the RIRRC gave a more depth explanation about the process of recycling pizza boxes here:

The Providence Journal blog post about the updated recycling policy has gotten the word out there, but many Rhode Island residents are still not aware of the of how pizza boxes should be disposed of. Since the policy has continually changed over the years, many people, like Roger Williams University student Logan Birch, still think that pizza boxes should be disposed of in the trash.

RIRRC holds educational sessions on what kinds of waste should be recycled and how they should be recycled. What to do with pizza boxes is discussed at these sessions. With the change in regulation, only time will tell if Rhode Islanders will start to follow the change. 

To see physical representations of the information contained in this blog, you can view our ThingLink here, or our infographic right here.


Why does it matter? The importance of journalists

Via Yan Arief Purwanto on Flickr.

Via Yan Arief Purwanto on Flickr.

BRISTOL, R.I. __ In August, 2010 npr.org published a three part series detailing the events of the USS Kirk, a small destroyer escort in the U.S. Navy’s 7th Fleet who rescued close to 30,000 Vietnamese refugees as they tried to flee from Saigon, Vietnam. The story had gone untold for 35 years and now NPR has published this truly incredible story. The three part series detailed all of the incredible acts that the crew of the USS Kirk did to save so many people from probable death.

Beyond the scope of the event itself, there is another message hidden in the three-part series. The message is this; the world needs journalists. Without journalists, this story would have gone untold. The acts of bravery from the crew on the USS Kirk as well as the acts of courage from the Vietnamese refugees would have been lost in the annals of history. Only stories of the horror in Saigon itself would have been record. The reason why it took so long for this miraculous story to be told was because there was nobody there to see it. If a journalist was there, the world would have known long ago about the heroism of the USS Kirk.

That is the point that I am trying to make here. Society needs journalists to tell them about what is going on around the world, and not only the negative things either. Sure journalists report on murder and corporate freud, but sometimes a journalists’ greatest contribution would be to shed light on stories like that of the USS Kirk, or maybe even a little boy who made friends with the local trash men.

Journalists need to be a part of society because they can shed light on parts of the world that might not otherwise be noticed. The most important part of being a journalist is just showing up.

How can Roger Williams University improve their recycling system?

BRISTOL, R.I. __ Roger Williams University has made a concerted effort to make the campus more environmentally friendly as well as more sustainable. On the way to getting there, the campus has promoted their recycling system as one of the main ways that they have improved their sustainability. Although the university has made many improvements, many people believe that there are still ways that it can be bettered.

Freshman Marine Biology student Marissa Papapietro is one of those people.

“You’ll see them around, like recycling bins and things like that, but it could definitely be more prominent around campus,” Papaietro said.

There is no doubt that RWU has done a serviceable job making their campus sustainable. After being named on the Princeton Review’s Guide to 353 Green Colleges, Roger Williams has been nationally recognized for their green initiatives and sustainability improvements.

The Roger Williams University Green Guide outlines all of the sustainability projects that the campus has developed over the past few years. The sustainability projects have ranged from having 70 outdoor recycling containers for cans and bottles to introducing hydration stations that promote the use of reusable bottles.

With all of these changes already made to the Bristol, R.I. campus, what else is there to be done?

One of the main ways that the campus could improve their sustainability and green campus status would be through the use of more environmentally friendly vehicles. Many colleges and universities around the country are targeting transportation as a major way to reduce their environmental impact. The University of Maryland has experimented with increasing the access of electric vehicle owners on their campus in order to try and keep their greenhouse gas emissions down. RWU Public Safety has been doing tests to see if electric vehicles would be a viable option for use in the future.

The university is taking strides to make the campus a greener place and has had success with the projects that they have embarked on, but there is no denying that there is more that can be done. An increased recycling presence on is a start, but only a step in the right direction in the overall journey to
“being green.”

Rhode Island changes policy on recycling pizza boxes

Via Newtown grafitti on Flickr.

Via Newtown grafitti on Flickr.

BRISTOL, R.I. __ The history of recycling pizza boxes is an ever-changing one. At first pizza boxes were said to be an item that was not allowed to be recycled, primarily because of the fact that the boxes themselves are contaminated by the grease, sauce and cheese from the pizza. According to a Providence Journal article from April 11, new manufacturer technology has allowed pizza boxes to slip back into the “Yes” column for recyclability.

“Well, the advice has changed again, although only slightly. Now, if the pizza box has a small amount of grease on the top or bottom, it’s OK to recycle,” said Sarah Kite-Reeves in the “Trash Tutorial” article from the Providence Journal.

Via Matthew Hurst on Flickr.

Via Matthew Hurst on Flickr.

The rule change will only be slight in the greater scheme of things, but being able to recycling pizza boxes will have resounding effects for the pizza industry as well as the everyday American citizen who enjoys a slice of pizza every once in a while. According Pizza.com, “The average pizzeria uses roughly 55 pizza boxes per day.” That statistic alone puts into perspective the amount of pizza boxes that would go from being tossed in the trash to being recycled.

There are still some restrictions when it comes to recycling the newly accepted pizza boxes. Instead of being compromised by the grease and pizza remnants on the box, “a small amount of grease on the top or bottom,” will be considered recyclable.

“What is a small amount of grease? This means no major discoloration of the box, no dripping grease, and the grease isn’t covering the entire bottom portion of the box. A few splotches of grease are fine, as are a few spots of sauce,” Kite-Reeves said.

The Rhode Island Resource Recovery Corporation (RIRRC) will take the lead when it comes to accepting pizza boxes with small amount of grease in order to get the ball rolling with the changes to the rules. Local pizzerias as well as major pizza box manufacturers will be affected by these new recycling regulations.

Raimondo gives grants to local environmental projects

Via Michael St. Jean on Flickr.

Via Michael St. Jean on Flickr.

BRISTOL, R.I. __ In honor of Earth Day this past Wednesday, Rhode Island Governor Gina Raimondo announced $3.3 million in state and federal grants to 23 projects and organizations around the state that are working on reducing and eventually eliminating stormwater pollution.

Raimondo announced the grants at Roger Williams Park and was joined by prominent government figures such as Providence Mayor Jorge Elorza and U.S. Environmental Protection Agency regional administrator Curt Spalding. Like stated above, 23 sites and organizations will receive some amount of funding, including a site located near Roosevelt Lake in Roger Williams Park, where Raimondo spoke. Other sites that will get funding include a site in Newport that will attempt to build roadside drainage areas and an innovative project to plant trees to absorb runoff in the Pleasant Valley Stream watershed.

“These stormwater improvement projects will preserve our rivers and bays, but at the same time they will put people to work, which is what we need to do here in Rhode Island,” Raimondo said.

The grants that Raimondo announced on Earth Day came from bonds approved in 2012 as part of the state’s Bay and Watershed Restoration Fund and federal Clean Water Act Section 319 Funds. The increased funding for these projects could significantly improve the ways that Rhode Island can protect their still water reserves from stormwater runoff and other harmful pollutants.

Is the Rhode Island Waste Reduction Act really the answer?

BRISTOL, R.I. __ The Rhode Island Waste Reduction Act has been brought to the forefront of of state legislature. The act would impose a state-wide ban of plastic shopping bags if approved by the state. Many environmentalists agree that a decrease of plastic bags could benefit the environment, but not everyone is on board for the act.

So far, Barrington is the only town in Rhode Island to take it upon itself to enact a plastic bag ban. Last year, the Barrington Conservation Commission recommended that the Town Council take action on this matter. Before the Town Council could even put the policy in place, the Barrington Shaw’s decided to ditch plastic bags all together.

With all of the known negative effects of plastic bags on the environment, one might wonder why the bill has failed to pass for consecutive years. The majority of the opposition has come from the packaging industry; for example, Packaging & More bag distributors in Central Falls has been vocal against the bill. One past opponent that is more surprising is the Rhode Island Resource Recovery Corporation (RIRRC). Although the end goal of the RIRRC is to keep the state clean, they didn’t want to see plastic bags go because it would invalidate the bag-recycling programs that they have put in place over the past several years.  However, now that some language has been changed from last years bill to this years, the RIRRC is now in support.

Grant money looks to improve the environment on Earth Day

Via U.S. Embassy Tel Aviv on Flickr.

Via U.S. Embassy Tel Aviv on Flickr.

BRISTOL, R.I. __ As many do when Earth Day roles around on the calendar, Rhode Island has made a concerted effort to make the Ocean State a better place. The 2015 Earth Day Grant Program, sponsored by the Rhode Island Department of Environmental Management (RIDEM), Rhode Island Resource Recovery Corporation (RIRRC), and the J.R. Vinagro CorporationM

, is a program designed to emphasize Earth Day and the people who care about making the environment a better place. The program has been made available for organizations who pride themselves in making their neighborhoods a better place to live. A statement regarding the program stated that, “Environmental stewardship is an important component of a healthy business climate.”

The program requires that the grant be used for a local Earth Day volunteer cleanup project and the program also requires an educational component must be available as well. Each organization who is hosting a clean-up site can apply for the grant by filling out an application. Each site can only receive one grant but if an organization is operating more than one clean-up site, the organization can apply for multiple grants for those sites.