Egg cartons not recyclable?

Looks like recycling to me!

The most common question residents search for in our “What Can I Recycle” database is whether paper egg cartons are recyclable. If you’re wondering, the answer is no – which to many, doesn’t make much sense. After all, they seem to be made of paper, they aren’t contaminated with any other materials, and are normally clean of food debris or other contamination. The reality is that while paper is a valuable commodity to recycle, not all types of paper are created equal. The paper fibers in egg cartons are typically too short for the paper recycling process. 

What are short fibers?

Short fibers are paper fibers that are too small to be effectively re-pulped and made into new paper products. When short fibers are mixed in with longer fibers, it weakens the overall quality of the paper product, and it can damage the recycling equipment. Paper egg cartons typically have a higher concentration of short fibers due to the way they are manufactured, which is why they are not accepted curbside in the Twin Cities. 

Lots of other options

But, there are still sustainable options for the use or disposal of paper egg cartons. You can compost them. They are great for your backyard compost bin and are accepted by compost collectors in cities where that service is available. You can reuse them – ask around, does anyone you know raise a few chickens for eggs – you’d be surprised how common it is – and how grateful they’ll be for some free packaging. They also make for great seed starters, once the seedling has sprouted, you can separate the paper cup containing the seedling and plant the whole thing in your garden. 

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