Eggs! We love them and the fact that they can be made into several tasty foods, drinks and sometimes used in decorations. But what about the egg cartons? What happens to them after we finish using the eggs? Can they be used for something else?
If you regularly use eggs, you may have wondered about this too, especially if you hate to see things go to waste, yes, even an empty egg carton. In this article about egg cartons recycling, we’ll discuss all you should know about recycling egg cartons, the types of egg cartons and recycling requirements, and how to recycle or compost egg cartons at home.
Recycling Egg Cartons
First, understand that egg cartons come in different types/packaging options, and you want your carton in the right place after use, so ensure that you consider that when buying the eggs. Below are some of the common types of egg cartons and some of the ways you can recycle them.
Styrofoam (Polystyrene) Egg Cartons
Styrofoam, aka polystyrene, is commonly used in manufacturing household items and construction products. Usually, they are discarded in the trash as they cannot go into most recycling carts. However, there are several creative ways to give these types of egg cartons another usage opportunity.
Clear Plastic Egg Cartons
These types of egg cartons are some of the best candidates for recycling. They are commonly made from recycled plastics and can be recycled easily as well.
Cardboard/Paperboard Egg Cartons
These types of egg cartons are often recommended for their eco-friendly nature. They are easily recycled or composted as they are made from recycled paper or cardboard. Usually, they are recycled until the wood fibers get shorter and eventually become too short for usage.
Because most egg cartons are usually the last life phase of these materials, they are sometimes only recommended for composting/landfilling.
What Can I Do With Egg Cartons?
There are several ways to put an egg carton into good use, whether they are recyclable or not. We will discuss some of the methods below;
Compost Egg Cartons
Composting is one of the best methods of discarding used cardboard egg cartons. As they are rich in carbon, these types of cartons often make great additions to garden landfills and compost piles. And they do this quickly instead of just floating or flying around.
Have Them Reused
You can save up your egg cartons and gift them later to local chicken farmers. They will appreciate them. However, ensure that they are clean enough for reuse. This way, new eggs can go into them for as long as possible until the cartons start to break down.
If you like to paint or have kids or other family/home members that enjoy painting, you may find egg cartons useful. How? They can hold paints and keep them separated in small amounts, thanks to the compartment sizes that work just well for that purpose.
Aside from composting, egg cartons can be used to start seedlings in the garden. Their small size compartments make them easily usable for this purpose. All you have to do is place some quantity of soil and then the seeds alongside other essentials and watch them grow!
Use As Packaging
Styrofoam egg cartons can easily be made into packaging for other products. All you have to do is simply break the foam up and add to cartons of products to provide the needed protection during shipping/transportation. While cardboard egg cartons can be used for the same purpose, it is usually not as effective as the paper ones.
For Storage Purposes
Almost every type of egg carton can be used as storage for small items such as beads, nuts and screws, pins, tennis and golf balls. This is because they provide separate compartments and a cover required for providing protection for these items.
Donate To Schools/Colleges/Organizations
If you discover that you truly have no need for the egg cartons, you may want to consider donating them to the local school, college or any other organization that may need them for projects requiring egg cartons.
You can visit or call to ask if they would want the cartons. They likely will want them and will also be grateful for the donation. This way, you do not have to bother about what happens to the carton or the guilt that sometimes accompanies such wastage.
When Egg Cartons Are Not Recyclable
While we often can recycle egg cartons, sometimes, they cannot be recycled for some of the reasons below;
Type Of Carton/Carton Make-Up
As said earlier, the carton type will determine the possible future use of a particular egg carton. Again, Styrofoam uses will differ from cardboard egg cartons use. Unlike the latter, Styrofoam usually cannot be taken to a recycling company.
Because of the proximity to other food items, egg cartons can easily be contaminated. And this means there is less likelihood for it to be used or accepted for recycling purposes. It is also easy for eggs to get contaminated, completely eliminating the possibility of another chance at using it.
If your items intended for recycling are frequently rejected, it might simply be a result of contamination, so make sure you check to ensure that it is clean and free of possible contaminants.
Again, as earlier state, cardboard egg cartons are often manufactured from items earlier recycled. As the wood fiber grows thinner, reusing may not be possible.
While we enjoy our eggs, many of us may not always enjoy needing to deal with the used egg cartons regularly. In this article, we discussed the different types of egg cartons and the ways they can be put into use. We also discussed some of the reasons an egg consumer may not be able to reuse their egg cartons, amongst other details.
We hope you find the information here helpful and also share them with others. Know other egg carton recycling tips or have questions about recycling egg cartons? Share in the comment section below.
Name: Rebecca Tarvin
Discipline: Integrative biology
Degrees: B.A., Biology, Boston University, 2010; Ph.D., Biological Sciences, University of Texas at Austin,2017
Rebecca Tarvin is broadly interested in integrating studies of natural history with molecular genomics and phylogenetics. Specifically, she aims to elucidate causal genetic mechanisms underlying novel traits, characterize phenotypic diversification at macro and micro-evolutionary scales, and identify factors that promote and constrain biodiversity.
She also likes to write about eco-friendly lifestyle and other material alternatives that are eco-friendly, aside from other ways to save Mother Earth