Comedian Kevin James once said that “there’s no better feeling in the world than a warm pizza box on your lap.”
A great many of us agree with that, especially considering that the pizza industry bakes up $32 billion in annual sales — and 93 percent of Americans eat at least one pizza a month. Broken down even further, 350 pizza slices (or cuts, depending on your locale) are eaten every second.
So, pizza is a beloved food, and if you’re a foodie, it’s just par for the course that you’ll eat a lot of pizza this year, and in your lifetime. But if you’re also someone who is concerned about the environment and waste and your footprint (as we all should be, really), those aforementioned statistics added up a lot of cardboard boxes, like, a whole lot.
Since 2009, one company has set out to reduce the waste associated with eating pizza, whether you’re scarfing down the whole pie or your willpower lets you eat just two slices (because we bet most people can’t eat just one). We’ve all been there, having to either dispose of a huge pizza box or trying to fit it and its leftovers into your fridge — until New York-based GreenBox went ahead and brilliantly reinvented the pizza box.
The box top detaches, and by tearing along its perforated lines, you get four plates that are the prefect size for your slice(s). That means there’s no need for paper or real plates, which, in turn, means no dishes to wash, so you’re also saving water and looking even more green. And have no fear if you have to tap out before you finish that pizza pie — GreenBox made the bottom half of the box fold in on itself to be the perfect leftover container that will fit in any refrigerator or be an easily portable to-go container.
There are tons of pizzerias across the country and in New York City that have made the switch to GreenBox. “Since we sell to distributors and not directly to pizzerias, we are not actually always aware exactly which restaurants use our GreenBox,” President and Co-Founder Jennifer Wright-Laracy told TheBlot Magazine last week. “However, we would estimate hundreds and hundreds across the country.”
Wright-Laracy said Two Boots Pizza, Pizza by Certe, Valducci’s, Pala Pizza, Pizza Moto, and Emily are just a few of the many restaurants in New York City that use GreenBox, and Joseph Vetrano’s SkinnyPizza recently joined the fold with a custom-designed GreenBox. Some stats provided by GreenBox, show that, each year, SkinnyPizza preserves 1,006 trees, five acres of land, 414,050 gallons of water, 242,515 kilowatt hours of energy and 189 cubic yards of landfill and more by going with its product.
TheBlot talked to Wright-Laracy about SkinnyPizza, GreenBox’s January appearance on ABC’s “Shark Tank,” what’s next for this growing company of five and, obviously, how she likes her pizza.
Nikki M. Mascali: How did the deal with SkinnyPizza come about?
Jennifer Wright-Laracy: Joe, the founder of SkinnyPizza, reached out to us back in 2010. He was one of the original users of our generic GreenBox. Joe had a very specific concept in mind for SkinnyPizza — he wanted crusts made with no preservatives or additives, pizza sauce made with 100 percent organic tomatoes, cheeses that are all-natural and toppings that are antibiotic and hormone-free. Selecting eco-friendly packaging came hand-in-hand with this concept, and the GreenBox was just a natural fit.
From walking out in front of the sharks to deciding to go with investor Kevin O’Leary, tell me about going on “Shark Tank.”
If you see the episode, you will see very quickly that we were incredibly nervous! Thankfully, we were able to pull it together and finish with a positive outcome via two separate offers from three sharks in total. Given Kevin’s experience with product licensing, we felt that he would be able to add the most value to our team.
How has the company changed since going on the show?
“Shark Tank” has been an unbelievable experience for our company. The level of exposure that the show has brought our company and the GreenBox brand has been incredible. Many consumers now recognize the GreenBox brand when they walk into their local pizzeria and immediately know how to use the box. That is a big deal for us because making people aware of the additional functionality of our product has been a big challenge!
Where is GreenBox made, and how many are produced annually?
We are now manufacturing out of 10 locations around the U.S. — Staten Island being the closest location — and are manufacturing for local markets in Australia, Central America and the Middle East. Within the next couple of months, we will also be manufacturing in Europe. The number of GreenBox pizza boxes produced annually is in the millions!
Do you think the foam packing restrictions in New York will help change or expand GreenBox?
We are getting more and more inquiries from customers looking to use paper and corrugated products, not just because the law dictates it, but because consumers are demanding it of the restaurants they patronize!
What’s on the horizon for GreenBox?
Our goal is to make the GreenBox an international brand. We currently produce other packaging products, including our WrapSleeve, Doggie Box and SliceBox. We plan to continue to expand the GreenBox product line, introducing products that meet the needs of today while protecting the resources of tomorrow.
And finally, aside from having it come in a GreenBox, what’s your perfect pizza?
I am a traditionalist — I love your basic pepperoni and cheese pie! SkinnyPizza’s thin-crust pepperoni and cheese is absolutely divine!
Nikki M. Mascali is editor of TheBlot Magazine.