Can You Compost Egg Cartons?

An egg carton containing a dozen of eggs

You can compost egg cartons if they’re made of cardboard. Read on to learn about the other materials used to make egg cartons, and more tips on how to reuse these unique and functional containers!

If you’re new to composting, you probably have some questions about what you can and can’t add to a compost pile. Coffee grounds and orange peels are perfect for your microorganisms to munch on, whereas meats and dairy products are a hard no.

A healthy compost pile filled with organic materials.

But what about the packaging your food comes in? In this case, though the eggs themselves are not compostable, you can use cardboard egg boxes in your compost heap. Plastic containers are recyclable but not compostable, and styrofoam boxes must be thrown away.


Eggshells are compostable! If you purchase cardboard egg cartons, you can use everything but the yolk and egg white in a compost bin. 

Can you Compost Egg Cartons?

Egg carton in countertop

The carbon in cardboard energizes microorganisms that break down organic matter in a compost heap. Some egg cartons are made of other kinds of paper, all of which are compostable. 

How best to contribute to your compost pile.


Cut your cartons into small pieces before adding them to your compost pile. You can use a pair of scissors or just tear it up by hand.

Are Plastic Egg Containers Recyclable?

Plastic egg tray container

While not compostable, plastic egg containers can go in your recycling bin. They just have to be free of any food waste.

Are Paper Egg Cartons Biodegradable?

White and beige eggs on paper egg tray

Paper egg boxes break down just as easily as cardboard ones. They both make for a perfect addition to a compost pile! As long as your paper or cardboard egg cartons are free of chemicals, plastic, and food waste, they’re always both compostable and recyclable.


If there’s raw egg on your cardboard egg cartons, they are no longer recyclable or biodegradable.



What Can I Do With Old Egg Cartons?

Old egg cartons used for planting

Feeling too crafty to just recycle or throw away these useful containers? If your compost bin is already full to the brim, there’s plenty more an old egg carton can be used for no matter what it’s made of.

The following activities are as fun as they are practical, and they’re great for kids!

Reusing Egg Cartons For The Garden

Seven brown eggs on tray

The small, uniform compartments in an egg carton make perfect seed-starters. Biodegradability makes paper and cardboard egg cartons recyclable in yet another way. Blogger Christy Kirwan’s method for making your own egg cup planters is as cheap as it is easy.

You will need:

  • A sturdy, compostable egg carton
  • Scissors, a box cutter, or something similar
  • Used coffee grounds (These are a great, free fertilizer!)
  • Potting soil
  • A bowl or other container for your fertilized soil mixture
  • Any kind of seeds
  • A waterproof tray to hold individual egg cups

First, cut the carton’s compartments apart (Kids, ask a parent for help with this step). It’s much easier to separate them now rather than after you’ve planted your seeds. As an alternative, save your eggshells and use them as natural, movable pots. In doing this, you can keep all of your seeds inside the egg carton and won’t need a separate tray.

Save your eggshells and use them as natural, movable pots.

Fill another container with equal parts coffee grounds and potting soil. You shouldn’t need more than what fits in a cereal bowl, but you can always make more if necessary. 

Fill the egg cups with the mixture and plant any seeds you like! Water them right away, and continue to follow the proper instructions to care for your plants. When they outgrow their little homes, move them into larger pots or a garden outside. 


If you used compostable egg boxes (Remember: cardboard and paper ONLY), the planters can go straight into the ground; there’s no need to transplant the seeds!

Start Seedlings

Plant sprouts on old egg carton

An old cardboard egg carton works just as well as a ceramic pot for seedlings.

This method uses the same materials listed above, but instead of seeds you will be using seedlings, Seedlings have already begun to grow roots and come with their own soil. 

Cut the carton as described above so the seedlings can be easily transplanted. Just like before, you may also use eggshells as pots for the seedlings and keep the egg box in one piece!

Use your finger to dig small holes in the mixture (coffee grounds and potting soil) already in the egg carton. Make sure each one is deep enough that the seedling’s own soil is completely covered. Water your new seedlings and watch them grow!

Use Them for Packaging

Six brown eggs on gray egg tray

You don’t have to use your old egg cartons to start a garden! They’re a cheap and effective container for paints, jewelry, bite-sized snacks like nuts, or anything else you can come up with.

You may want to use a pair of scissors to cut off the lid of the egg carton for easier access to whatever you plan to fill it with. Keeping the lid could protect what’s inside or make the carton more easily transportable. It’s totally up to you!

You also have the option of decorating your new container! Gather up paints, stickers, markers, glitter glue, and anything else you can think of to personalize the egg carton. Congratulations! You have a brand-new, sustainably-created storage container.

Benefits of recycling egg cartons

Top view of beige eggs on gray egg tray

Egg cartons are easy to recycle. As long as you don’t put the cracked egg shells back into the carton, it can go straight into your recycling bin! 


Raw egg or other food waste on cardboard egg cartons makes them unrecyclable.

Plastic containers may come into contact with food waste as long as they’re thoroughly rinsed before being recycled. 

Your recycled egg cartons will go on to make new egg cartons or any number of other paper and plastic products. By recycling, you have saved resources, time, and energy, benefiting the entire planet!

To recap, all clean cardboard and paper egg cartons are compostable. If you don’t need to compost them, they’re also easily recycled. Though they are recyclable, plastic egg containers don’t belong in a compost bin

Unfortunately, styrofoam cartons cannot be composted or recycled. Throw them away unless you have an idea to reuse them. You can also reuse compostable and recyclable egg containers in any number of ways, from gardening to jewelry-organizing. Happy composting!