Can You Compost Egg Cartons?

Egg carton used as nursery for small plants and for compost for plants, Can You Compost Egg Cartons?Reducing your waste and trash is a priority on your mind. You've successfully started composting, but now you want to take it further. You know that it's okay to throw your eggshells in the compost bin, but can you compost your egg cartons?
You can compost your egg cartons if they're made of cardboard. Egg cartons are considered a source of carbon in your carbon-nitrogen compost mix. They need to be cut down into small pieces, though, for you to compost them.
But if what if you're egg cartons are not cardboard, what can you do with those? Can you compost the plastic ones? What about the styrofoam? We'll look at the answers to this and a few other questions you may have about egg cartons in the post below.

Composting Your Egg Cartons

Compost, black gold, the stuff of garden dreams. But how far can you take your compost? Can you put kitchen trash, as well as kitchen scraps in the bin? More specifically, can you compost your egg cartons?

Egg cartons typically come in one of three varieties: cardboard or paper, styrofoam, or plastic. The styrofoam and plastic types of egg cartons are not compostable as they will not break down. The cardboard and paper ones are compostable.

To compost your cardboard and paper egg cartons, you'll need to cut them down into small pieces. Because of their three dimensional sizes and shape, paper shredders (which you can use for other paper compostables) won't work here. But no worries, just take your handy scissors or box cutter and cut the carton down into small pieces. You can even tear it if all else fails. Soaking it in water will help as well.

Are Paper Egg Cartons Biodegradable?

Yes, they are, which is why you can compost them. The process of biodegradation is simply nature's way of returning materials to organic material. Cardboard is dissolved by bacteria, consumed by microorganisms, and returned to a natural state. In your case, it turns into compost for your garden.

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Are Cardboard Egg Cartons Recyclable?

You love the idea of composting more than your waste scraps, but maybe you have a tiny compost bin like this one that only holds 18.5 gallons. If you always buy eggs in cardboard, can you recycle them if you've run out of room in your bin?

Yes, if you keep the carton clean, you can recycle them. However, if you crack your eggs and return the eggshells to the carton, the cardboard is considered to be contaminated with food waste and is no longer recyclable. But if that does happen, save it until you can fit it in your composter.

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Are Plastic Egg Containers Recyclable?

Of the other two types of egg containers, plastic and styrofoam, only plastic is recyclable. Styrofoam, unfortunately, goes straight to the landfill. But plastic egg cartons, which are often made of recycled plastic themselves, can be put into your plastics recycling. But they can also be given new life with reuse.

One thing that can help with recycling is to have a great organization system. Luckily there are so many options out there for easy sorting. This four bin set is fantastic because it has velcro to join each bag, but they are easy to separate. Each bag has handles for loading up in the car or taking to bigger bins to empty. And because your plastic egg bins stack, they'll go in the plastic section easily.

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What Can I Do With Old Egg Cartons?

You've composted your cardboard cartons, but what to do with all of the plastic or styrofoam cartons? There are many ways to give old egg cartons a new life.

If you have a friend who is an elementary art teacher, egg cartons can be used for paint trays. They can be cut up to make egg carton crafts. This kit comes with the ideas and paints and brushes needed; all you provide is the cartons.

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Reusing Egg Cartons For The Garden

In the garden, you can use your old cartons to sort and organize your seeds. You can even use egg cartons to start seedlings. Add some seed starter and your seed, and voila, you have a handy little pot for each seedling. Seed starters are explicitly mixed to create a super environment for young seedlings to give their roots a good start into the world.

Be sure to put a tag into each of the cups so that you know what seed you've started in those egg cartons. These handy tags from Burpee are especially helpful because they're made of wood, therefore reusable and sustainable (even compostable!).

Find A Friend With Chickens

Do you have a friend who has chickens? Save your cartons and pass them along. That way, your containers see more than one life, which helps reduce waste. Americans eat about 270 eggs per year, which breaks down to almost 23 egg cartons per person on average. Think of the landfill reduction you could accomplish by reusing or composting even half of those.
If you have a backyard, why not consider getting chickens? Then you can add nitrogen-rich chicken manure to your compost, not have to use egg cartons to bring your eggs home, and have eggs to give all your friends. So many cities now allow backyard hens that it's become its own cottage industry right alongside composting.
This backyard chicken house has a large outdoor run, a compact footprint, a well-designed nesting box with easy access to eggs, and a roof that opens for easy cleaning. Not only that, the water-based green paint is super adorable and safe for your hens. Plus, the enclosed area will keep them safe from predators. Think of the egg containers that you won't have to recycle!

The Final Word On Composting Egg Cartons

Remember, there are three types of cartons: paper, plastic, and styrofoam. Only paper can be composted. And only paper and plastic can be recycled. Styrofoam, unfortunately, goes straight to the landfill. Keep these in mind when you're purchasing eggs so that you can make great compost and be good to the earth.

If you want to see some other thoughts here at Garden Tabs, check out these additional posts below:

Amend Clay Soil for Vegetable Gardening

How to Choose the Right Container for Your Vertical Garden

How to Make a Vertical Garden from Plastic Bottles

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