On a busy summer day when New Yorkers and tourists flock to Central Park for sports games, lunch in the shade, and sunbathing, the Central Park Conservancy can remove more than 100 pizza boxes from just one area of the park. To help curtail overflowing trash bins and visits from hungry rats caused by this proliferation of pizza boxes, the non-profit organization responsible for the care, maintenance, and restoration of Central Park is testing out a new waste management initiative: a pizza box recycling bin.

Unlike traditional circular waste bins scattered throughout the park, this bin is square and designed specifically for pizza boxes. Once you remove all food from the box, simply slide it into the opening at the top and it will fall into a neat stack. This process is much easier than trying to fold and cram a square box into the small round hole of existing bins, which can often lead to an overstuffed bin with trash piled on top and falling to the ground. As a sign on the new pizza bin box points out, human food attracts rodents and is unhealthy for wildlife.

The pizza box bin is located next to the Great Lawn in a busy spot behind the Metropolitan Museum of Art, close to playgrounds, basketball courts, and picnic tables. According to the New York Times, the bin can hold nearly 50 boxes. The bin will be emptied three times a day.

Pizza Box Recycling bin in Central Park
Photo Courtesy of Central Park Conservancy

Besides the new bin in Central Park, New Yorkers have two ways to recycle greasy pizza boxes through the Department of Sanitation. Unlike in other cities where pizza boxes can’t be recycled, pizza boxes in New York City are accepted with residential paper/cardboard recycling. The boxes can also be placed in curbside composting bins along with all other types of food-soiled paper and food and yard scraps.

The pizza box recycling bin will be up until the end of the summer when the Conservancy will evaluate its effectiveness and determine if more should be added to other locations within the Park.

Next, check out The Garbage Strike of 1968 and Roosevelt Island’s Futuristic Pneumatic Tube Trash System