Can You Recycle Egg Cartons

Can You Recycle Egg Cartons?

Eggs are one of the most fundamental staples within any diet. Except for those allergic to eggs or on a vegan diet, just about everyone eats something with eggs in it almost daily. Since eggs are eaten so frequently, it is a great idea to recycle egg cartons, but are they recyclable?

Paper and plastic egg cartons are recyclable. Foam egg cartons can be recycled but they normally aren’t part of most recycling programs.

The answer to this question is a bit nuanced since it depends on the egg carton material and whether there is food residue. To find out exactly what type of egg carton you can recycle, read on.

The Short Answer

The answer to this question is as follows: it depends. Depending on the material the carton is made from and whether or not there is food residue, egg cartons can either be recyclable or not recyclable.

Before you get a little worried, knowing which cartons you can recycle is pretty straightforward and easy to determine.

All you need to do is look at the carton to determine what type of material your carton is made out of and see if there’s any food residue on it. Just by taking a few extra seconds to check out your carton, you can easily determine whether or not your egg carton is recyclable.

Why Are Egg Cartons Not Recyclable?

There are several types of egg cartons that are recyclable. Paper (cardboard) and plastic egg cartons can be recycled and should be placed in the recycling bin. Foam egg cartons cannot be recycled and should be reused or thrown away in the trash.

Yes, As Long As…

You will be able to recycle egg cartons made from paper or clear plastic. Paper is recyclable. So, you can toss your paper cartons in the paper recycle bin. You can also toss clear plastic clamshell containers in the recycle bin too, but they need to be recycled with plastic.

No, If…

You cannot recycle foam cartons or cartons with food residue, however. Foam cartons are often made from polystyrene or plastic #6 and cannot be recycled. Also, food residue contaminates recycling. You should not recycle cartons, foam or paper, with food residue on it.

Can You Recycle Egg Cartons

Paper Vs. Plastic Vs. Foam Cartons

Egg cartons will be made of one of three materials: paper, plastic, or foam. Although all three materials are technically recyclable, most communities only accept paper and plastic and do not recycle foam because of how difficult it is to break down and reuse. There are some benefits of foam cartons that paper and plastic cartons don’t offer. Let’s take a close look at all three types.


If you are most concerned about the environment, then paper cartons are the best way to go. Paper is recyclable and compostable. This material is super easy to recycle, but it will also decompose quickly on its own if it goes to the landfill. For these reasons, paper cartons are the best options for environmental purposes.

The drawback of paper cartons is that they don’t protect the egg as much as foam cartons. Since they do not offer as much support, they are much easier to crack accidentally. Once egg residue is on the paper carton, it is no longer recyclable.


Plastic egg cartons are also recyclable, but they are not compostable. If you take the time to sort them within your recycling bin, this plastic can be reused for other purposes. If plastic egg cartons make it to a landfill, it will take a long time for the plastic to break down, unlike paper cartons.

Like paper cartons, however, plastic cartons do not protect the egg as securely as the foam. This means that the egg can crack within the carton, and you will not be able to recycle the plastic carton.

Overall, plastic cartons are better for the environment than foam ones, but they are worse for the environment than paper. If you take the time to recycle the plastic egg carton, then the plastic will not be wasted. If you simply throw away the container, though, it will not decompose in a landfill quickly.


Finally, the last material that egg cartons are often made from is foam. Foam is advantageous in that it is cheap and protects the eggs the best. There is less chance that your egg will break since it absorbs more shock and provides more cushion due to the foam.

The main downside of foam cartons is that most communities do not accept this material for recycling. Foam cartons are normally made of polystyrene or plastic #6, which is incredibly difficult to recycle. Although this material technically is recyclable, most communities do not have the funds or resources to adequately do so.

For this reason, most people will not be able to recycle foam egg cartons. You can reach out to your local facility and see if they do except this material for recycling, though.

What Can I Do With Empty Egg Cartons?

You can reuse egg cartons in a number of ways. They can cushion Christmas ornaments, be used as organizers, be added to compost piles, replace packing peanuts, start seedlings, or be used to hold eggs from your homestead.

Composting With Egg Cartons

If you have a garden, you might want to consider composting. Composting is when you use organic material to help plants grow in the soil. Food scraps and other materials like paper egg cartons can help with composting.

Paper Egg Cartons for Composting

Paper egg cartons are typically made of a type of cardboard. This material will add a carbon-nitrogen mix to your compost. Because of this carbon-nitrogen addition, paper egg cartons can help your compost break down faster, allowing your plants to be healthier and grow faster.

Adding your paper egg cartons to your composting pile is a great way to make the most of your waste in a way that is beneficial for the environment and saves you money. Using your old egg cartons and other materials, you can help grow food and other plants without the need for harmful fertilizers.

Is It Better To Recycle or Compost Egg Cartons?

As a general rule, composting your paper egg cartons is better. The paper used in egg cartons is considered low quality and doesn’t recycle as easily as other types of paper. Never try to compost plastic or foam egg cartons!


You can recycle egg cartons if they’re made of paper or clear plastic and do not have any food residue on them. However, you cannot recycle foam egg cartons unless you have a special facility in your community that accepts this material, but most communities do not.

Although plastic is recyclable, we recommend grabbing paper egg cartons when you go to the store. This material is best for the environment, and it can be both recycled and composted. Just by simply swapping your egg carton, you can positively impact our planet.