If you have ever thought of reducing waste, you have probably already practiced composting and similar other sustainable methods of maintaining waste. Now, when it comes to composting, there are a couple of do’s and don’ts that most of us are aware of. For instance, you already know that tea leaves, coffee beans, vegetable peels are some of the items you can compost. Alternatively, bones, dairy products, fish, and meat, are some of the things you should avoid composting as they are likely to heat your compost pile.
But, what about egg cartons? Can you compost them? Or should you avoid adding them to your compost pile as they might have a similar effect as composting fish, meat, and dairy items?
Well, the answer to this question entirely depends on the material of your egg cartons. If your cartons are made of cardboard, you can definitely compost them after cutting them down into small pieces. But what about other materials like plastic or Styrofoam? Can they be composted? If not, how else do you reuse them? Well, these are some of the many concerns we will address over the following sections of this article.
Can you Compost Egg Cartons?
Paper or Cardboard egg cartons are the most environmentally friendly option you have as far as packaging. They are typically made from paper pulp that is shaped and pressed into this egg-friendly shape and is efficient as a protective material. Because the paper pulp is derived from natural materials like wood, these are biodegradable and can be reintegrated back into the earth.
You can easily compost paper egg cartons by mixing it with your already existing compost system. When moistened they can also be easily consumed in a worm based vermicompost system.
While you probably won’t be adding an exaggerated quantity of egg cartons into your compost, these do contribute as a carbon source to your compost so be sure to balance it with an adequate source of nitrogen-rich materials. Carbon-rich materials are also often known as “brown materials”.
Depending on your climate paper egg cartons will take anywhere from 2-4 weeks to decompose. Sometimes paper egg cartons can contain plastic-lined stickers that may have questionable glues. Try to remove as many of these stickers as possible before composting.
Are Plastic Egg Containers Recyclable?
While most plastic egg cartons are recyclable, this tends to vary depending on the type of plastic. For instance, clear plastic cartons can almost always be recycled along with every other curbside product. In most cases, these PET or clear plastic cartons may be recycled around 6 to 7 times. They are lightweight, clear, and offer complete visibility of your eggs. Since they are usually recycled from PET, it also ends up saving plenty of energy. Plastic egg cartons can be directly thrown in recycling bins. Alternatively, they may also be upcycled in storage containers.
However, if you are still unsure about the recycling factor, examine the package of your carton carefully, and check if it comes with a recyclable symbol. You should also check with your local recycling agency to check if they indeed recycle and accept egg cartons. In case they don’t, fret not, for there are multiple ways to re-use your cartons. Keep reading the rest of this article to find out how.
Are Paper Egg Cartons Biodegradable?
YES! Luckily paper egg cartons are biodegradable and accepted by almost all local recycling agencies. To get these cartons recycled, make sure they are fully clean without a speck of moisture. Also note that if you keep your eggs back inside the carton once you are done using them, your carton won’t be biodegradable anymore. This is because the food residue (regardless of the amount) will contaminate the carton, and in turn, the entire process of recycling.
You can of course use them if they are dry and non-contaminated. Very often, paper egg cartons are deemed the most biodegradable of the lot when compared to plastic and styrofoam variants. This is not merely because they can be recycled, but also because they are created from the paper that passes through the entire recycling process.
Are Cardboard Egg Cartons Recyclable?
YES, cardboard egg cartons are certainly recyclable because like paper cartons, they too are made from old and recycled cardboards. As with paper egg cartons, the cardboard variants are also completely recyclable. However, before you proceed to throw them in the bin, check with your local authorities to ensure that they are indeed recyclable. That is because some recycling agencies do not accept egg cartons regardless of the material.
Note: Although cardboard egg cartons are recyclable, unlike paper they may only be recycled a few times as the wood fibers tend to shrink in size with every round of recycling. Since your egg cartons are likely to stand at the closing point of the chain, it is best to double-check with the authorities before you choose to get your carton recycled.
What Can I Do With Old Egg Cartons?
If your egg carton is not recyclable or your local authority doesn’t accept these cartons, you might want to try some DIY hacks to preserve and reuse the cartons yourself. Here are some ideas you might be interested in:
This is probably one of the best ways to get your egg cartons recycled, especially if they are made from cardboard. These kinds of egg cartons are usually found with a brown external covering which again has high carbon content in most cases. The carbon content is one of the best additions to your compost pile as it perfectly balances the items rich in carbon.
Although some might assume that getting rid of the cartons would result in their disintegration in landfills, the result is certainly not as viable when compared to compositing. Egg cartons require plenty of aeration to break down and since a landfill space doesn’t offer this flexibility, it is best to break them yourself and add them in your compost pile.
2. Store Stuff
If you’re living in a cramped apartment that lacks storage space, egg cartons might just be your next best friend. These cartons are one of the best storage options for small items like beads, jewelry, and even edible items like toffees and nuts. Since the carton comes with different compartments, your items will look neat and perfectly organized. If aesthetics is your concern, you can always jazz up the cartons with a dash of bright colors.
3. Keep Your Paint
Are you fond of painting? Do you live with kids who enjoy painting? Either way, you can always transform your egg carton into a nifty paint-holder. The carton, with its separate compartments, will keep the colors intact and in perfect shape. Since most of these compartments have a round or oval shape, they are just the perfect space for holding small to moderate blots of paint.
4. Fire Starter
If you are someone who heads out for camping once in a while, you can always double up your egg carton as a fire starter. Just coat the compartments with some wax, lint, and you’re good to go! The fire starter will not just be useful for your camping trips, but it will also provide you the much-needed solace during chilly wintry nights.
5. Grow a Plant
If you don’t yet have a compost pile, fret not, for you can always grow a bunch of plants in your carton. All you need is some seedlings and quality soil. After sourcing the ingredients, add the soil to the compartments, and scatter the seeds on them. Finally, keep them in a spot that receives ample sunlight and water them every day. Depending on the plant you’re planning to grow, you can expect results in a week or two.
6. Use Them For Transportation
While the main use of egg cartons is to safely transport the eggs from one place to the other without breaking them. You may take the advantage of the same cartons to transport other valuable materials that need to be carefully transported.
7. Donate Them
If either of these options does not seem to be suitable, allow someone else to put their creative hats on! Yes, I am specifically talking about donating your cartons to schools or any other organization that involves children. Since most of these institutions work with kids, they will certainly find a great use for your egg carton. So, simply look around to check if anyone is willing to take up your cartons for recycling and you will certainly find a good use for them!
Egg cartons are certainly compostable if you get the cardboard variants of these cartons. In case, cardboard egg cartons are not available in your area, follow our guidelines while recycling the other types of cartons. Either way, make sure you do make an active effort in recycling because that will go a long way in reducing waste and making the world much more habitable!