Can a Pizza Box Save the Planet?

Green Pizza Box

Pizza. From its humble beginnings in Italy, it has become a food enjoyed across the globe. And though the size, shape, and flavor may vary widely, one thing does not. The box. A sturdy utilitarian container, it does a good job keeping the pizza warm, safe, and easy to carry. Billions are used each year. And they’re slacking on the job.

Depending on the pizza, having a plate to set it on is a necessity. want to store what you don’t eat? Good luck, that bulky box often requires you to muscle other things out of the way to make room. What if the box could double as a plate? And triple as a compact post meal storage container? It can, using the same ol’ box, remixed. It’s called the Green Box.

It’s simple really: Take the standard box, perforate the top into quarters, and they can turn into plates. Perforate the edges of the bottom of the box, then once down the middle, and you can fold that into a leftover box that’s half the size of the original. Less than that, actually, since the box is wedge shaped.

So, you’ve made pizza eating easier, and for some, that’s all they need to know. A boon to both pizza shop owners and customers. But the impact beyond that could be huge. How? Think about all the other things that would have been used with a normal box: Plates plus the time/water/detergent used washing them. Disposable plates if you’re out, likely tossed. Paper towels standing in for plates. Plastic wrap or foil used to cover or wrap the leftovers in a smaller package then that mammoth box.

This may not sound like a lot in terms of one meal, but think for a moment how many pizzas are consumed every day, all over the world. 4.8 billion annually in the US alone. Taking out everything but the box out of that equation, and making it out of recycled paper while you’re at it, is a huge score.

And on a broader level, I see this as having the potential to reach a broader population, if the box has green messaging on it, and further suggestions for people to do to lighten their impact on the planet, and let’s face it, look cooler to their friends. For some, this may be their first interaction with a greener product, and for the first time, it has relevance to their lives.

E.C.O. Incorporated, the New York based makers of the Green Box, have made a wise move – They could have gone dark green, making it out of agricultural waste based paper, etc etc, appealing to greenest among us. But that would have likely raised the price, and for most pizza shops, a quantity focused industry, that would be a deal breaker. Instead, they took the industry standard box, modified nothing but how it’s cut, and made it out of recycled paper, an increasingly cost competitive option.

Why wouldn’t a pizza shop do this? They’ll have taken a step to be greener, their customers will have a better experience and they too can do their part, and they have a story to tell friends. Pizza Fusion, are you listening?

Readers: What other simple solutions have you seen out there to reduce waste, or eliminate it altogether? Any innovations in green packaging we should know about?

***

Paul Smith is a sustainable business innovator, the founder of GreenSmith Consulting, and has an MBA in Sustainable Management from Presidio School of Management in San Francisco. His overarching talent is “bottom lining” complex ideas, in a way that is understandable and accessible to a variety of audiences, internal and external to a company.

Images from: EcoIncorporated.

Paul Smith is a sustainable business innovator, the founder of GreenSmith Consulting, and has an MBA in Sustainable Management from Presidio Graduate School in San Francisco. He creates interest in, conversations about, and business for green (and greening) companies, via social media marketing. || ==> For more, see GreenSmithConsulting.com