Are Egg Cartons Compostable?

I find the hardest part of composting with kitchen scraps is to get the right ratio of brown to green materials. Vegetable peels and food scraps are often high in nitrogen, and reusable grocery bags reduce our kitchen paper materials. 

Fortunately, one of our favorite breakfast foods often comes packaged in a paper or cardboard carton chock full of carbon materials. Some egg cartons can be added to your compost, but not all egg packaging makes the cut. 

Can I Put Egg Cartons In My Compost?

Egg Carton

There are 4 common types of cartons that our eggs come packaged in. Cardboard egg cartons and paper egg cartons are biodegradable and compostable. Adding cardboard egg cartons to your compost can help reduce add more brown material to your compost heap. 

Some types of cartons can not be composted and are not biodegradable. Plastic egg cartons are common and are not compost-friendly egg carton material. Plastic cartons can usually be recycled in your normal household waste management program. 

Plastic cartons are durable and can be cleaned thoroughly. Recycling plastic cartons can help reduce landfill materials. It is hard to clean cardboard egg cartons and paper cartons. Keeping a plastic carton clean is easier, and there is less chance of food residue remaining like with paper pulp cartons. 

Some eggs come in styrofoam which is not a recycling or compost-friendly egg carton material. Styrofoam items must be thrown away as the recycling technology is not sustainable for home use. Paper pulp or cardboard containers should be used instead of styrofoam cartons. 

Any containers with food waste like egg yolks, dairy products, meat, or cooking grease should be thrown in the trash, not the compost. Those organic materials can cause the compost to stink and are not great for plants. 

4 Benefits Of Composting Egg Cartons

  • Carbon – Items like wood and juice cartons have carbon, but the most common kitchen scrap with brown material is compostable egg cartons. 
  • Excellent Habitat for Worms – Paper pulp cartons and cardboard containers make excellent homes for the worms in our compost. Adding these will ensure that the worms are comfortable as they break down the size of the container.
  • Seed Holder – If you want homemade seed starters or to fertilize new plants, egg cartons can be left whole and placed in the compost. Composting egg cartons will feed the plants as well as retain moisture and protect seeds and tiny plants. 
  • Reduce Trash At Landfills – Avoid buying plastic cartons and choose compostable containers that can reduce the amount of trash at landfills. You can recycle plastic containers, which are better than styrofoam containers that fill up dumps.

How Long Does It Take For An Egg Carton To Decompose?

A container made of cardboard or paper can break down in 1 to 2 weeks, depending on the size of the material. Like wood, these containers break down as carbon and help add to potting soil and contribute to farm health. 

Choosing composting containers over recycling them is a good way to get the most out of the items we store our food in. If you are composting for potting soil, avoid wood, as it won’t break down. 

Also, avoid meat, dairy products, cooking grease, and trash when making compost. Adding meat can increase bad smells and attract animals. This can be dangerous on farms where wild animals may roam. 

Dairy products and cooking grease make the bacteria sick and can hurt your worms. This will slow down the composting process. Only use clean compostable egg cartons when choosing composting items. 

4 Ways To Speed Up Composting

Often we do not throw away whole containers when composting. Bigger items like cardboard or egg containers can be cut into smaller sizes. If you plan to use your egg carton as a seed holder by adding potting soil, you don’t need to make it a smaller size.

  • Chop Up the Materials – With a box cutter, cutting carbon materials like cardboard and thin wooden chopsticks to a tinier size can speed up how long these items decompose. Bigger egg containers can also be soaked in water, where they will reduce in size.
  • Add the Correct Ratio of Carbon and Nitrogen-Rich Materials – Egg containers are high in carbon, so plenty of food scraps and green items should be added. Depending on the size of the carbon material that is being added, enough food waste and high-nitrogen items must also be included. Egg containers direct from farms will usually be cardboard or paper and not plastic.
  • Add More Worms, Microbes, and Mycelium –The ridges of the cardboard and paper egg containers will help your soil population explode. Make sure that any food added to the compost is healthy for the worms.

Avoid dairy products or items too large in size for the worms to break down. If any wood scraps are being added, make sure there is no finish, or else tag it for recycling.

Other Uses For Egg Cartons?

Seedlings Growing in Egg Carton

Egg containers that aren’t for recycling or composting can be put to work for other uses. Jewelry holders and seed holders are just a few ways to upcycle egg cartons. Finding uses for craft items of all sizes can be hard, so materials like egg cartons can be a huge help. 

ItemUseHow to Make 
Jewelry HolderHolds earrings and jewelry, so it doesn’t get lostCut Sections of egg cartons that can close and hold valuables
Seed StarterGives seeds a fertile ground to sprout inFill grooves of egg cartons with compost or potting soil and pop seeds. 
Potted Plant MulchPrevents evaporation and cools plant rootsTear cartons into tiny pieces and play on top of the soil in a potted plant. Cover the roots and soak the cardboard to help add more moisture. 
  • Jewelry Holder – Making a jewelry holder can be a fun and easy craft. Cut out sections of around 4 eggs and the adjoining top section. Make sure you have at least two areas that pinch closed. Place jewelry in the dips where it should remain safe. This can be useful for camping and traveling. 
  • Seed Starter- Starting sensitive seeds or getting a jump start on the growing season can be aided with an egg carton seed started. These can be placed inside when temperatures are low and moved outside until the seedlings are ready to be transplanted.  
  • Potted Plant Mulch- Mulching potted plants can be useful. Paper mulch is too light and might blow away. Paper pulp and cardboard egg cartons make a heavy enough mulch not to blow away and can keep moisture in potted plants for longer.