Brandable: A Smarter Way To Eat'Sa Pizza

Photo:  Sigmund  /


It’s a fact that America is a nation of pizza-lovers. Every year in the U.S., Americans consume a whopping three billion pizzas, according to The Washington Post; that’s equivalent to 46 slices per person, or enough pizzas to cover 100 acres in gooey, cheesy goodness each day. But with three billion pizzas comes a lot of boxes containing grease and cheese residue, and tons of corrugated cardboard, according to the American Forest & Paper Association (AF&PA), begging the question of what’s being done with all those leftover boxes—and that’s where Performance Food Group (PFG) and WestRock saw an opportunity.

PRG, a Richmond, Virginia-based food service distributor with more than 100 facilities nationwide, and delivering to more than 200 locations, partnered with WestRock, an Atlanta-based corrugated packaging company that manufactures pizza boxes, to launch Sustainable Choice™, a national pizza box recycling program and online portal designed to debunk the myth that used pizza boxes can’t be recycled. The companies were inspired to create the program following a Westrock study, which was endorsed by members of the AF&PA to dispel confusion on whether grease and cheese residue affects the recyclability of pizza boxes. WestRock concluded that the corrugated pizza boxes—which can be recycled up to seven times, says the AF&PA—can be recycled when there is a moderate level of cheese and grease on them. 

PRG and WestRock’s portal serves to educate restaurants and the public on how and where they can recycle their pizza boxes, and encourages them to do so. In another WestRock study conducted in 2019, it was found that nearly three-fourths of the U.S. population (73 percent) is believed to have access to recycling programs which include pizza boxes. To let customers know they are program supporters, participating restaurants can showcase promotional materials, such as pre-printed box stickers and window clings, and digital content to share across social media and on company websites. A QR code displayed in branding materials will also permit customers to scan the code with their smart device, which will direct them to the portal and an option to enter their ZIP code for local pizza box recycling guidelines in their area. 

PRG and WestRock’s platform not only serves their customers by encouraging them to get involved in a greener way of doing business, but it also provides them with a way to share their involvement with their clients, thereby contributing to a “greener” reputation. The platform also encourages end users to get involved, too, thus encouraging social action. The platform stations PRG and WestRock as eco-focused businesses, while also positioning restaurants to be involved in and perceived as greener companies, too.


Danielle Renda is associate editor of PPB.

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