Egg cartons are a staple in most households. Countless recipes call for eggs, and there are numerous ways to enjoy them. Eggs are a versatile food that’s also healthy to eat, but have you ever thought about what happens to the packing?
Most people aren’t lucky enough to raise hens. Their eggs come in a carton. Even roadside farmers’ markets package their fresh eggs in cartons.
But are egg cartons recyclable? It’s a question to ask as you are working towards a more eco-friendly lifestyle.
Are Egg Cartons Bad for the Environment?
The answer depends on the egg carton. The convenient containers are not made from the same materials. Styrofoam, cardboard, and plastic are the most common materials, but you can also find cartons constructed from a blend.
Synthetic materials are not biodegradable. Your egg carton will sit in a landfill. Natural materials are biodegradable, and some are compostable.
There are instances when egg cartons are not recyclable. Not all recycling companies accept food containers. Food is a contaminate and can make a carton non-recyclable. It applies to egg cartons, even if the eggs didn’t break inside.
It’s always a good idea to find out what a recycling company excepts before you toss egg cartons into the bin.
Can Foam Egg Cartons Be Recycled?
Surprisingly, you can recycle Styrofoam egg cartons but it’s not easy. Styrofoam is a type of polystyrene, it’s a petroleum and chemical mixture. It forms a lightweight and durable material ideal for carrying delicate items like eggs.
Most recycling companies do not accept foam egg cartons, but specific ones do. These recycling companies are usually supported by the government or the oil and gas industry.
They use a complicated process to extract petroleum from the egg cartons. If you are willing to search for a specialized recycling plant, you can recycle foam egg cartons.
Can Cardboard Egg Cartons Be Recycled?
It seems like the answer is an easy yes, but it depends on your recycler. Cardboard egg cartons are made from previously recycled materials.
Egg cartons use the thinnest cardboard and may not be strong enough for recycling.
Your recycling company may turn away cardboard egg cartons, but you might be able to find a specialty plant.
Can Plastic Egg Cartons Be Recycled?
Would it surprise you to learn that plastic egg cartons are the easiest to recycle? It’s true. The majority are made from #1 plastic, and it is recyclable.
Of course, there are exceptions. Some egg cartons can be made from a different grade of plastic. Not all of these are recyclable, so you may have to check with your recycling company.
If you don’t know how to tell the plastic grade. Look for a small recycling stamp on the packaging. It’s usually placed on the side or bottom.
Are Cardboard Egg Cartons Compostable?
Most cardboard egg cartons are recyclable. It also applies to paper egg containers. These materials are biodegradable and can easily be added to a compost pile.
You may be wondering about the ink on the carton. Some inks contain chemicals, and you don’t want them in the garden.
Thankfully, most egg cartons are printed with soy-based ink. It’s chemical-free and biodegradable. Even newspapers use soy-based ink. It’s more vibrant and less expensive than petroleum-based inks.
Paper and cardboard egg cartons are high in carbon and other nutrients that help enrich the soil. To help with the composting process, cut the cartons into smaller pieces.
Soaking the pieces in water will also help them compost faster.
One tip to remember is if you are planning on composting a lot of egg cartons. When you add a lot of carbon to the soil, you want to balance it with nitrogen.
To answer the question, are egg cartons recyclable, it depends on the construction. Even then, the answer can vary.
Most plastic egg cartons are recyclable, while paper and cardboard ones can go in the composting pile. Styrofoam egg cartons are only recyclable at specialty plants, and there’s not always one close by.
It’s not easy getting away from foam egg containers, they’re the most common type. However, you can still make them sustainable. Foam egg cartons make great paint and seedling trays.
You can also keep them around to hold painted Easter eggs when they’re drying.
You may not be able to recycle all types of egg cartons, but you can make them sustainable.