The evidence speaks for itself as to why eggs are the world’s most popular breakfast choice. Whether scrambled, sunny-side up, or hard-boiled, eggs are delicious! However, once we have cooked them up, what do we do with the leftover egg carton? 

The answer lies in the material the egg carton is made up of. Typically, you can compost egg cartons as a majority are made of paper. But what if you’ve purchased plastic or styrofoam packaged eggs? Can you compost those? 

As people become more aware of their carbon fingerprint, finding out simple ways to safely compost materials is an excellent way to educate ourselves on how to make less of a negative impact on the environment. Keep reading to find out if and how you can compost egg cartons. 

Is It Better To Recycle Or Compost Egg Cartons?

As you may be aware, egg cartons come in a variety of packaging. You have your run-of-the-mill basic paper, plastic, and styrofoam. Depending on what material you purchase determines what you can do with the carton once your eggs are eaten.

Recycling or composting, which is better? Again the answer lies in the kind of material your egg carton is in. If your carton is made from plastic and you have a compost bin, that would be an excellent option for you. 

If your carton is plastic, then recycling would be the way to go, and if it’s styrofoam, it goes straight into the garbage bin. 

Reducing waste is very important to most consumers, so finding ways to lessen the impact on the planet and also get some benefits for your little world is a win-win for everyone.

How To Compost Egg Cartons

Approximately 270 eggs are consumed per person a year. However, this doesn’t include extracurricular egg uses such as Easter egg hunts, egg races, or the occasional Halloween mischief night shenanigans. Doing the math, that’s a lot of egg cartons left over. 

Made from a mixture of paper and cardboard turned into pulp, your typical paper egg carton is 100% ready to be composted. You first want to cut up your egg carton into small pieces or even tear it if scissors aren’t available. An added step could be to soak the pieces in water so that they are able to compose quicker. 

All that’s left is to pop those pieces in your compost bin and let nature take the lead! 

How Long Does It Take To Decompose An Egg Carton?

Typically, it takes a paper egg carton two to four weeks to decompose. It all relies on what the temperature is outside or where your compost bin is located. The higher the humidity, the quicker the breakdown process is. 

Are Paper Egg Cartons Biodegradable?

Yes, this is why they are a great addition to a compost bin. The process of biodegrading is the paper being consumed by microorganisms and then dissolved by bacteria found within the compost bin resulting in a mulch like substance for your garden

How To Make A Compost Bin 

Head over to your local hardware store and pick up an 18-gallon plastic bin with a lid. Drill at least two-inch holes on the bottom and sides of the container and some holes spread apart on top of the cover. 

Once your bin is ready to go, let’s begin to fill it as follows: 

  • Egg carton pieces cut up, leaves, shredded paper or wood chips
  • Soil can be added as well
  • Add your scraps of leftover food, fruit, veggies, etc. to the bin
  • Add some water but not so much that items get soaked
  • Mix the contents 
  • Place the lid back on and leave covered for one or two days
  • Make sure to mix the contents at least once a week 
  • If the bin gets dry, add water as needed

How To Recycle Paper Egg Cartons 

If you don’t have a compost bin and have no desire for the DIY project, the next option is to recycle your paper egg cartons. However, if the carton has any contaminates such as egg material or spills from other items, then, unfortunately, they cannot be put in the recycle bin but instead tossed in the trash. 

Egg cartons must be free of any food waste in order to not interfere with the recycling process due to contamination. If your carton is clean and clear, simply go ahead and add it to your recycling container to head off to your local recycling center. 

DIY Egg Carton Projects 

Nobody knows how to reuse an egg carton in a creative way better than a kid with a paintbrush, some glue, and a couple of shiny beads. If you aren’t a parent to a toddler or an elementary school teacher, below are some fun DIY projects for those leftover egg cartons. 

  • Holding small desk items- paper clips, thumbtacks, rubber bands, or clips
  • Grow some flowers or herbs- fill with soil, a seed and sit on the windowsill
  • Hang on the wall and use it as a board to hang pictures, reminders, and miscellaneous items 
  • Use as a paint tray 
  • Organize like items by size- ex: small nails, medium, nails, large nails 
  • Make egg carton fairy light holder 

How To Recycle Plastic Egg Cartons 

Plastic egg cartons are 100% recyclable. Before tossing them into the bin, make sure they are washed and free of anything that would be considered a contaminate. 

Just like paper egg cartons, plastic egg cartons can be reused in many ways for indoor and outdoor use. Some ideas are:

  • Use as an ice tray 
  • Cut out your favorite pictures and glue them to the bottom of the carton as a funky picture frame
  • Organizational tool
  •  Use for making Jell-O half spheres 
  • Food tray for small snacks 
  • Hair accessory organization

Are Styrofoam Egg Cartons Recyclable? 

Check your town’s recycling forum to find out if styrofoam products are accepted as recyclable material. Although you often find the recyclable arrows symbols on egg cartons, it is not always a guarantee that your recycling center takes them. 

If they are accepted, just like the plastic cartons, make sure it is free of any contamination, or it will just end up in the garbage pile anyway as it will not be deemed recyclable if dirty. 

Here are some ideas on what you can do with those styrofoam egg cartons at home: 

  • Make an egg carton wreath 
  • Added protection for covering glass items in storage
  • Classroom crafts 
  • Candy holder for table
  • Craft accessory organizer 
  • Coin holder 
  • Cake Pop display tray 

How To Go Egg Carton Free

Visiting your local farmer’s market or farm is a great alternative to purchasing packaged free eggs. In this case, you can bring your own reusable container to carry the eggs. For the DIY’ers out there, building your own chicken coop and adding a new addition to the family is another great idea for not just package free eggs but never having to buy them ever again. 


If the idea of your egg carton ending up in a landfill because it is not compostable bothers you, then taking a few extra moments to choose paper or plastic containers should be on your shopping list.