Are Ice Cream Cartons Recyclable? (And Ways to Reuse)

The deep love for ice cream would make many people not deny it even if you put a gun to their heads. The kids’ love for ice cream is another thing entirely; you can’t come in between them. For many adults, ice cream is an indispensable part of them. Even for us here, ice cream is one reason we haven’t given up on life.

When you throw parties or see the movies, they are a great company. On sunny days, you can’t ignore them. But then, after the whole unending love and euphoria we get from eating ice cream, what’s next? What happens to the ice cream cartons and containers? Can you recycle them? Are they bad for the environment? What other uses can you put them to?

This post is just like your ice cream; you would enjoy every bit of it. We have explained everything you need to know about your ice cream cartons. And how you need to act safely with them. Fasten up, let’s go.

Can You Recycle Ice Cream Cartons?

To many of us, the content is what matters. We certainly don’t care about the carton. After all, what we paid for is the ice cream and not the carton. But then, environmental issues have started gaining our attention. And we now need to start asking the right questions.

One of such is whether ice cream cartons are recyclable. Americans consume loads of ice cream daily, about 23 pounds per person every year. This makes some sense to say that there would be a whole lot of ice cream cartons around. And that there should be a way to recycle and reuse them.

Sadly, however, the opposite is the case. Ice cream cartons are not recyclable. Hardly would you find a local recycling center that collects such cartons for recycling.

The reason for this is long, but let us break it down for you.

If you have intimately felt an ice cream carton on your hands before, you would have realized one thing. And that is that its texture is like that of cardboard. Hence, it is firm.

If this were only the case, it would have been better; at least, water would eventually break down the cardboard. In addition to this, however, ice cream cartons have plastic linings. These plastic linings protect water from entering the carton.

In essence, the ice cream carton has a kind of coating known as wet-strength. This wet-strength coating allows the ice cream carton to withstand freezing temperatures without falling apart. This means that it is water-resistant in almost all freezing and wet temperatures.

This is the reason it is not recyclable. If you have witnessed a paper recycling process, you would have noticed that recyclers break down papers in water before recycling. They can only recycle after they have made the papers into pulp.

Since the wet-strength coating would prevent the ice cream cartons from getting wet, recycling becomes challenging. So, you see, ice cream may go quickly well down your throat, but they don’t go down well in the machines.

So, if you have been saving up ice cream cartons for recycling, now is the time to die the idea. Many recycling companies won’t accept them. All you must do is dispose of the ice cream cartons in your waste bin.

However, in some rare cases, some recycling centers can detach the plastic coating from the paper. And then proceed to place the cartons in the recycling machine. Still, this is very rare.

However, if your local recycling center collects ice cream cartons, don’t forget to empty the extra cream in the carton. If you do this and rinse the carton, it would be easier to recycle. Besides, it would prevent the cream from contaminating the other recyclables.

Can You Recycle ‘Ben and Jerry’ Ice Cream Containers?

Hardly would you find anyone in your community who has not had a taste of the ben and jerry’s ice cream. If you find someone, please be nice and buy the person one ben and jerry’s ice cream. You know, it isn’t fair that they are missing out on life’s fun.

Ben and Jerry’s is a top brand for ice cream across the country. Their ice cream comes in some paper containers with plastic coatings. Today, we don’t want to concern ourselves with the ice cream, but the container.

What happens after you have scooped the entire ice cream? Can you recycle the container? Let’s answer that.

The answer to this question is No. Although ben and Jerry claims that its ice cream containers are FSC certified, there is still a lot more. True, the paperboards that ben and Jerry uses for ice cream containers have FSC certification. However, there is a polythene plastic coating to make it water-resistant. And to make it capable of withstanding high freezing temperature without breaking apart.

This is why recycling is almost impossible. Generally, recyclers make pulp of papers and cartons by soaking them in water before recycling. While other papers would break down in water after a while, Ben and Jerry’s ice cream container would not.

The reason for this is because of its water-resistant coating. If it doesn’t breakdown to make a pulp, there’s no way you can recycle it.

So, the problem with Ben and Jerry’s ice cream container is with the extra plastic coatings. Sadly, this coating is critical. And until we find a different way to make ice cream containers water-resistant, things will remain the same.

Are Ice Cream Cartons Compostable?

Sometimes, you don’t want to enjoy the sweet flavor alone. You also want your garden plants to have a taste of it. So, you are thinking about composting your ice cream cartons. Well, here is what we have to say.

Ice cream cartons are compostable. There is, however, considerable caution. If the ice cream cartons still contain a plastic coating, don’t put it in your compost bin. The reason for this is simple. The plastic coating would not allow it to break down in real-time. This would cause many problems for your compost bin, even if you shred the ice cream cartons before putting it there.

If you have the time, you can remove the tiny plastic coating completely. After this, you can then throw it into your compost bin. For better compost performance, you should shred the carton before putting it in the compost bin.

If you cannot remove the plastic coating, then your ice cream carton belongs to the garbage.

Be sure to dispose of it very well. You can do this by getting polythene or paper bags. Then you put all your empty ice cream cartons in it. When the bag is almost full, you tie or seal it off. Then, finally, you take the tied or sealed bag outside and dump it in the garbage.

Ensure your garbage is in a place where the garbage collectors can easily access it.  Avoid placing any obstructing thing on its path. Don’t also park your car near the garbage. This may prevent the easy movement of the garbage collector.

Are Ice Cream Cartons Biodegradable?

The answer to this is quite tricky. Yes, we can say that ice cream cartons are biodegradable. But the problem is when would this finally occur?

You would have realized that ice cream cartons are themselves paper materials. However, they are with plastic coatings. Although the paper would readily biodegrade, the plastic coating would prevent this from happening.

So, if you drop your ice cream cartons and you expect them to biodegrade, you may be wasting your time. It is not that they won’t biodegrade, but they would take a very long time before they do.

Before this occurs, they could cause a significant problem for the environment. For instance, the flood could wash them off, and they could end up in the sea. This can cause problems for marine life.

Source: Canva

Are Plastic Ice Cream Containers Recyclable?

If you buy ice cream frequently, you would know they also come in plastic containers. And after scooping your favorite flavor, what do you do with them?

Now, you already know you can’t recycle pint-coated ice cream paper containers. But, is it the same for plastic ice cream containers? Well, let’s find out together.

Yes, plastic ice cream containers are recyclable. Unlike their pint-coated counterpart, you can recycle plastic containers without stress. You can gather them and put them in a recycle bin.

So, that’s it. Your plastic ice cream container is not totally useless.

Is It Okay to Put Ice Cream Containers in the Recycling Bin?

After your ice cream, the proper way for you to dispose of the container is by putting it in the garbage. Always avoid putting it in the recycling bin. The reason for this is simple.

First, local recycling centers won’t accept it. This is because the ice cream containers’ wet-strength coating won’t allow the container to dissolve in water. If this does not happen, there is no way to recycle.

Secondly, if you put an ice cream container in your recycle bin, it could contaminate the other recyclables. This is because; ice cream containers always have extra cream in them. This could spill out and pour on different materials like paper. It makes it difficult for recyclers because they must begin to sort before they recycle.

So, since there is no possible reason for putting your ice cream container in the recycling bin, you should avoid it. Doing so will only take up spaces in your recycling bin.

What Can I Do with Empty Ice Cream Containers? (Ways to Reuse)

Creativity never ends. With ice cream containers, there are many things you can do with it.  Here we have provided a list of things you can make with your containers after finishing your ice cream.

1. Storage for Toys

If you have been having problems with your kids displacing their little toys, here’s the solution. After enjoying your ice cream, you can wash the container and use it as storage for your kids’ toys. This would help the toys to last longer.

2. Pet Food Container

Your pet would appreciate it if you get a new food container for it. The good thing is that you don’t have to spend extra money to do that. All you have to do is convert your ice cream container to a pet food container. And that’s all.

3. First Aid Box

Gather some first aid materials and put them in the ice cream container. That’s pretty much all you have to do.  You just got yourself a different first aid box. Don’t forget to mark it, so you can quickly identify it.

4. Money Box

You can teach your kids how to save early. All you have to do is convert your ice cream container into a saving box. Remind your kids occasionally to always drop some money in it.


So, that’s everything you need to know. However, remember that as you enjoy your ice cream, always be conscious of the environment. It’s all our duty to save the environment. Act now.

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About Rinkesh

A true environmentalist by heart ❤️. Founded Conserve Energy Future with the sole motto of providing helpful information related to our rapidly depleting environment. Unless you strongly believe in Elon Musk‘s idea of making Mars as another habitable planet, do remember that there really is no 'Planet B' in this whole universe.