Considering the number of egg cartons that people purchase, throw away, and so on, I decided to research whether egg cartons are recyclable. Although those cardboard egg cartons have a variety of uses after the eggs are long gone, the question remains: Are egg cartons recyclable?
Cardboard egg cartons are recyclable just as any other type of cardboard. But if they are made out of foam, they are not part of a curbside recycling program. While the technology that creates new products from polystyrene or foam cartons is available, the recycling market is small and specialized only.
I hope this answer gave you a better understanding of the egg carton recycling topic. But if you want to learn more about it keep reading the rest of the article. I touch upon the topic of what egg cartons are made of, how to recycle them, and also how you can reuse them in your household.
- What are egg cartons made of?
- Are egg cartons recyclable?
- Are egg cartons compostable?
- Can styrofoam egg cartons be composted?
- How to recycle egg cartons?
- How to reuse egg cartons?
- Are egg cartons considered paper or cardboard?
- What can egg cartons be recycled into?
- What to do with Styrofoam egg cartons?
- Frequently asked questions
What are egg cartons made of?
Nowadays, egg cartons are made of different materials like cardboard, recycled paper, molded pulp, various polymers, and others. Popular materials are polystyrene, PET plastic, and pulp paper.
Recently, they have been made eco-friendlier and are made from recycled paper and grass fibers.
Are egg cartons recyclable?
I’ve discussed what egg cartons are made of, so let’s now answer the main question – are egg cartons recyclable? Well, that depends on the material they’re made out of.
Egg cartons that are made from recycled paper can be recycled in most areas. In fact, egg cartons can be recycled as long as they’re empty – even if there are no eggs left inside.
Recycling cardboard is easy and can save energy, water, and landfill space. Cardboard is made from recycled paper, so recycling it cuts down on the need to make new paper products.
The more we recycle, the less virgin wood fiber needs to be cut to make new boxes.
Many recycling centers and curbside pickup services accept them as well as other types of paper products as they are all biodegradable.
You can recycle cardboard egg cartons in your curbside recycling program or at a drop-off center.
There are also many local organizations that accept egg cartons for reuse or recycling, such as schools and community centers.
When you recycle an egg carton instead of throwing it away, you’re saving valuable resources that would otherwise be used to make a new one!
Before you recycle them, make sure that the carton is empty and there is no food residue, as that can have an effect on the recycling process.
How about egg cartons made out of polystyrene and PET plastic?
Styrofoam egg cartons are made from polystyrene, a type of plastic that is not easily recycled.
Styrofoam is also made from a mixture of chemicals, which can be harmful to the environment if they are released into the environment.
While polystyrene is a chemical that can be recycled and used to make new products, it’s not feasible to recycle styrofoam because it is too lightweight to be collected by most recycling systems.
That is why many local facilities do not accept polystyrene egg cartons in their recycling programs.
The best way to recycle polystyrene egg cartons is by finding a local recycling center or drop-off location that accepts this type of material.
You may also want to check with your local waste management company for information on where to dispose of your polystyrene egg cartons.
The plastic egg carton is made of polyethylene terephthalate (PET) plastic, which is considered recyclable. The bottle of water you had this morning was likely made from this same material.
However, most of the time these containers are thrown out in the trash.
PET plastic is one of the most common types of plastic in the world and it is also one of the most recycled types of plastic, which means you can recycle your plastic egg cartons in your curbside recycling program.
The plastic egg cartons are already made out of recycled PET which saves a lot of energy. This type of plastic can actually be recyclable up to 7 times.
As always before throwing your recycling in the recycling bin, make sure your egg cartons are clean and have no food stuck to them.
Are egg cartons compostable?
As said, egg cartons are mostly recyclable, but are egg cartons compostable?
The cardboard egg cartons that are made from paper pulp are completely compostable! You can put them directly into your compost whole, torn, or shredded.
To break them down faster, you can splash them with a bit of water.
Can styrofoam egg cartons be composted?
What about other types of egg cartons? Can styrofoam egg cartons be composted?
Both styrofoam and plastic egg cartons cannot be composted and should be discarded/recycled. They are made from a type of plastic that takes hundreds of years to break down.
How to recycle egg cartons?
So, after all this information, let me tell you how to recycle egg cartons.
You can recycle paper egg cartons in your curbside recycling, but you’ll need to make sure they’re empty. Plastic egg cartons are recyclable, too, but only if they’re clean and dry.
Paper egg cartons are usually made from recycled newspapers. They’re a great alternative to styrofoam or plastic containers for both transporting eggs and storing them at home.
But how do you recycle paper egg cartons? The short answer is: by putting them in your curbside recycling.
If you have access to curbside recycling, put your empty paper food trays in the bin with your other recyclables.
If you don’t have access to curbside recycling, check with your local waste management company about drop-off locations near you.
Most companies will accept clean and dry paper containers, including snack foods like crackers, cookies, and chips; pet food bags; and even diapers!
Plastic egg cartons are also recyclable – as long as they’re clean and dry before placing them into the recycling bin. Start by checking with your local waste management company.
Some communities have laws that require you to put only certain types of plastics in the same bins as other recyclables – such as bottles and cans.
So check with your local government first before putting your egg cartons in curbside bins or at drop-off locations.
You can also look for a facility that specializes in processing specific types of materials like paperboard, which includes cardboard boxes and paperboard containers like egg cartons.
Many of these facilities are located near major ports where shipping containers are unloaded and broken down into their component parts for recycling by machines that grind up heavy cardboard boxes into pulp fiber and flatten plastic containers into flakes.
Let’s check out the most common practices for recycling egg cartons.
If you live in a region where recycling is handled by your local government or municipal waste department, then all you have to do is dump your egg cartons in your curbside recycling and wait for the truck to arrive.
The recycling truck will pick them up and take them to be recycled.
If you have doubts about the eligibility of your egg carton, check for the number on the carton (for example #1 for plastics). It should be stamped on the bottom of the carton.
The second option is to check in locally owned grocery stores, farms, co-ops, and egg retailers that participate in take-back collections. This way the egg cartons can be reused or recycled.
This is actually a good way to keep egg cartons out of landfills and it saves farmers a lot of money.
How to reuse egg cartons?
One of the best ways to minimize waste is to reuse it. How to reuse egg cartons?
You can reuse egg cartons in the kitchen, bathroom, and around the house. Here are a few great ways to repurpose your old cartons.
1. Give them to a farmer friend
Know someone who has chickens? They are always in need of egg cartons and they will be super happy to cut down their costs if you have a few egg cartons to spare.
2. Store Christmas ornaments
I love Christmas ornaments, but whenever I store them lose a few breaks. Egg cartons are perfect to keep the ornaments in place and safe from breaking.
3. Grow Seedlings
Egg cartons, especially cardboard ones are great to start growing seedlings of any kind. Remove the lid, put some soil in the compartments along with the chosen seeds, spray with some water, and wait.
4. Feed birds
Remove the lid, thread string through the corners of the carton, and fill up the cups with bird seeds. Hang the carton on a tree branch and your bird friends will now have food through winter.
5. Muffle the sound
Are you a musician? If you are scared that your neighbors will hear everything through walls, egg cartons can be your savior. Nail them across the wall to muffle the sound.
6. Organize jewelry
The small cups of the carton are great to organize and store your jewelry so it does not get tangled up. Keep the lid to keep the dust away.
7. Organize screws
In the same way as jewelry, you can organize your toolshed by placing all the loose screws and bolts. You can even write the numbers of each screw to keep things neat.
8. Store tiny spare lights
Place your tiny spare lights or Christmas lights into the cups of egg cartons to prevent them for breaking or tangling.
9. Make flower lights
This is a bit of an art project but as a result, you will get beautifully dimmed flower lights. Cut the egg carton cups and shape them into paper flowers, put the lights through the openings, and enjoy romantic decor.
10. Protect your mail
Cardboard egg cartons can be a great replacement for packing peanuts. They are lightweight, and despite being soft they are stiff and durable.
11. Use them for gift packaging
With a little bit of paint over spare egg cartons, they can be used just as a normal packaging box, only cuter and more one of a kind. Add a little bow to make them extra fancy.
14. Use them as paint cups or a palette
Kids love to paint and there never seem to be enough paint cups around. Use the plastic egg cartons as water-holders, paint cups, or even a makeshift palette.
13. Cool a drink
For this one, you should also only use plastic egg cartons. If you’re low on ice trays, these can be a great DIY addition. Remove the lid, add water to the cups, and put them into the freezer.
Are egg cartons considered paper or cardboard?
Egg cartons are generally made out of recycled paper, but are egg cartons considered paper or cardboard?
They are considered cardboard, as they are made from molded pulp which is a mixture of recycled paper and cardboard. If your recycling needs to separate paper and cardboard, put the cartons with the cardboard.
What can egg cartons be recycled into?
You’re now probably wondering, what can egg cartons be recycled into? As I said, they are mainly made from molded pulp, so they can be recycled into new egg cartons or similar products.
But since paper fibers can become too small to be reused, they can’t be recycled too often.
What to do with Styrofoam egg cartons?
What about Styrofoam cartons, what to do with Styrofoam egg cartons?
Check if your curbside recycling allows the #6 plastic which includes polystyrene. If not, check with your local grocery store.
Many offer drop-off bins where they collect foam products much like egg cartons.
Frequently asked questions
Are egg cartons made from recycled paper recyclable?
Yes. Paper egg cartons are generally made from recycled paper or cardboard and can be recycled again. This type of egg carton can be placed in your curbside recycling just like other paper. Furthermore, they are biodegradable and also compostable.
Can egg trays be recycled?
Egg trays made from recycled paper are 100% recyclable and also biodegradable. The majority of recycling agencies accept them. Egg trays made from plastic are usually categorized as plastic #1, which your curbside recycling services accept as they can be melted down for reprocessing.
Are Happy egg cartons recyclable?
Yes. The yellow and blue Happy egg cartons are completely recyclable and biodegradable – that includes the labels. However, there are some plastic Happy egg cartons at select retailers, which are not biodegradable but can be recycled like other type #1 plastic.
Do egg cartons go in paper or plastic?
That depends on what they’re made from. If they’re made from paper, you can put them into a paper bin, if they’re made from plastic, you can put them into plastic bins. There are also cartons that are made from #6 plastic – check with your local authorities if your curbside recycling accepts them.
Egg cartons are made from a variety of materials, including recycled paper, plastic, and Styrofoam. The article went into detail about the topic of “are egg cartons recyclable”.
The ones made from paper can be recycled with other paper products. To recycle plastic egg cartons, place them in the recycling bin along with your other plastic products.
Have any more questions about this topic or do you want to share your experience with your local recycling programs?
Leave a comment below and I will be happy to read it and answer any questions.