Are Milk Cartons Recyclable?

Do they end up in a landfill or are milk cartons recyclable?

Open a fridge, and there’s a good chance a milk carton is sitting on a shelf. Whether it’s dairy, soy, nut-based, or anything else, the milk comes in a carton.

Some are paper, with a waxy coating and others are plastic. Considering how many refrigerators there are, it’s a lot of milk cartons to throw away.

Have you ever wondered what happens to your milk cartons after throwing them away?

Recyclable Cartons

Are Milk Cartons Recyclable?

The good news for environmentally conscious households is most milk cartons are recyclable. Chances are, you can recycle your paper and plastic cartons at home.

Most cities offer curbside recycling pickup. It’s usually the same time as your trash pickup.

All you need to do is toss the milk carton in your recycling bin and set it out on the designated pickup day.

It’s a quick and effective way to do something beneficial for the environment.


How Do You Dispose of Milk Cartons?

Did you know you may not be properly disposing of your milk cartons? What the cartons are made from may determine how you recycle them.

It’s easy to figure out if you have a plastic milk jug. Some plastic milk cartons even have a recycling symbol stamped on the side or bottom. You can go ahead on toss plastic milk containers in your plastic recycling bin.

It’s not even necessary to rinse the container out. The recyclers will still take it away.

Something you may not know. You don’t have to crush your plastic milk containers for recycling. It makes it easier for sorters at the recycling plant when items are in their original shape.


Is Milk Carton Paper Recyclable?

Recycling paper milk cartons is a little different than plastic jugs. To prevent milk from seeping through the paper a waterproof coating is applied.

The coating on frigerated products is usually plastic. Aluminum is added to non-refrigerated paper containers, but it doesn’t apply to how you recycle your milk cartons.

 Most recyclable milk cartons are around 80% paper and 20% plastic. Even if your milk carton doesn’t have a recycling symbol, you can still toss it in the recycling bin.

Do Milk Cartons Go In Paper or Plastic?

It is a little confusing recycling paper milk cartons. The containers also contain plastic, so which recycling bin do you use?

There isn’t one answer to this question. It depends on where you live. Cities and states have varying recycling regulations.

California for example has separate bins for paper, plastic, and metal. While the large city of Houston, Texas allows residents to use one container for all of their recycling needs. You can toss aluminum cans in with your recyclable paper milk carton.

It’s always best to check with your local recycling organization before recycling milk cartons. You don’t want to use the wrong bin and have the container end up in a landfill.

Most recyclers prefer paper milk cartons with waterproof coatings go into bins with plastic and metal items. The thin plastic coating makes it difficult to recycle the cartons with other paper items.

Milk Cartons

How Do You Recycle Milk Cartons with Plastic Spouts?

Some milk cartons come with plastic pour spouts. The spouts are convenient and reduce spills. They also have a downside the spouts are not recyclable.

It doesn’t mean you can’t recycle the milk carton, you just need to take an additional step.

Since you can’t recycle plastic milk spouts, go ahead, and remove them. For now, toss the spouts in the trash. Hopefully, recycling facilities will find a way to reuse plastic in the future.

The coating prevents you from recycling the milk carton with your other paper products, but you can toss it in the bin designated for plastics.

Milk Cartons


You don’t have to give up milk to have a positive effect on the environment. Milk cartons are recyclable.

Chances are, you are going to recycle your milk cartons with other plastics, even with paper containers. Paper milk cartons have a thin, plastic coating to keep the liquid from leaking out.

If you aren’t sure about the recycling schedule in your area or what the facility accepts, your local government website should have the information you need.

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