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Composting / Traditional Composting

Composting Egg Cartons: How to Turn Waste into Garden Gold

One of the best ways to nourish your garden is by composting. Composting is a natural process of breaking down organic matter into nutrient-rich soil that can be used to fertilize plants. But, can you compost egg cartons? And what is the trick to composting egg cartons?

The short answer is yes, you can compost egg cartons, if they are made from recycled paper or wood pulp. When composting egg cartons, break them into smaller pieces and add them to your compost pile along with other organic materials such as kitchen scraps and yard waste. 

In this guide, I will provide you with a complete overview of how to compost egg cartons as well as other tips and FAQs like can you compost eggs.

stack of cardboard egg cartons that can be recycled or composting egg cartons

Can You Compost Egg Cartons?

Composting egg cartons is a great way to reduce waste and help the environment. Composting egg cartons is also an easy way to recycle. But, can you put egg cartons in compost bins? 

Egg cartons are made from paper or cardboard so they will break down, adding valuable nutrients to your compost. Can egg cartons be composted? Yes, egg cartons made out of cardboard or paper can be composted as they are biodegradable.

You can also use shredded egg cartons as mulch or use them as homemade seed starters (more about this later in the post). Composting egg cartons is a simple but important step toward sustainability.

It does help to start with a compost bin, so if you’re looking for a good composter to compost your organic waste, Choosing a Composter – Help Discovering One That’s Best For You is a great place to start.

How to Compost Egg Cartons

Composting egg cartons is a great way to reduce waste and create nutrient-rich soil for gardens. Here are the steps for how can you compost egg cartons:

  • Step 1: Rinse off any egg residue from the egg carton. This will help prevent attracting pests and keep your compost odorless.
  • Step 2: Cut the carton into small, manageable pieces. This will help it to break down quicker.
  • Step 3: Add the egg carton shreds to your compost pile. Make sure that they are not too large or too dense in one area as this can slow down to decomposition process.
  • Step 4: Mix your compost pile and cover it with brown materials (like leaves or straw). This will keep your pile from drying out or becoming exposed to sunlight which can kill bacteria needed for decomposition. Deciding where to place your compost bin is also key here.
  • Step 5: Keep adding organic material as normal. This will also help speed up the decomposition of the egg carton pieces in your compost pile.
  • Step 6: Follow my steps to making the best compost – Check moisture levels in your compost. Add water if necessary, as well as turn your pile and mix in new organic material when possible.
  • Step 7: After several weeks, you should have nutrient-rich soil for your garden beds or landscaping projects!
Lady adding compost to compost pile in can you compost egg cartons

How Long Does it Take Egg Cartons to Decompose?

An egg carton will take 2-4 weeks (depending on climate and type of material) to completely decompose. To speed up the decomposition process, regularly turn and add organic materials to your compost pile. Keeping your compost moist and covered in brown materials like leaves or straw can also help hurry the process.

Are Eggs Compostable?

Have you ever wondered what to do with raw or rotten expired eggs? 

Eggs are a great addition to your compost pile. They contain nitrogen that is beneficial to the composting process. Eggshells are also compostable and will help with the aeration and drainage of the compost. 

When adding eggs or eggshells to your compost pile, it can help to crack or break them down into smaller pieces first. This will help them decompose faster. But try to bury them at least a foot deep in the center of your compost pile to deter cats and wild animals.

You can also add crushed eggshells to the soil in your garden for a calcium boost, or sprinkle them around brassicas as a natural deterrent for slugs and snails.

The Alternative: Recycling Egg Cartons

Can Egg Cartons be Recycled?

Egg cartons are a common item found in many households. The design holds and protects eggs during transport, but once the eggs have been eaten, what do you do with the carton? One question that often arises is, “Are paper egg cartons recyclable?” 

The answer is yes! Paper egg cartons are recyclable as they fall into the category with other paper products such as newspapers, cardboard, and magazines. 

It’s important to note that not all egg cartons are made of paper. Some egg cartons are plastic, foam, or other materials. These materials are not always recyclable (depending on where you live). 

Are Styrofoam Egg Cartons Recyclable?

A styrofoam egg carton is made from polystyrene foam, which is not recyclable and not biodegradable. You must check with your local recycling program for acceptance and instructions – because it varies by location.

For some recycling programs, the foam must be clean and without any food residue or pollutants. Additionally, you can only recycle specific types of polystyrene foam. Those marked with a recycling symbol followed by “6”.

If your local recycling program does not accept polystyrene foam, you can still reuse egg cartons. Either for gardening, kids crafts or other purposes.

Are Plastic Egg Containers Recyclable?

Yes, you can recycle plastic egg containers, but it depends on the type and quality of the plastic used to make them. Check your local recycling center for what plastic egg containers they accept.

In general, it is best to look for labels that say #1 (PET) or #2 (HDPE), which are both accepted for recycling. Before sending them for recycling, ensure that your plastic egg cart cartons are clean.

You can look into other ways to reuse or repurpose your plastic egg containers instead of throwing them away. Depending on the size, these can make great planters, organizers, or even bird feeders!

In summary, I would always recommend choosing cardboard egg cartons over styrofoam or plastic when you have the choice, as cardboard can be either recycled or composted.  

are plastic egg cartons recyclable and are styrofoam egg cartons recyclable

Clever Ways To Reuse Old Egg Cartons?

There are many creative ways to reuse old egg cartons. Here are some ideas:

Growing Microgreens: 

Cut the lid off the egg carton and fill each egg cup with potting soil. Sprinkle microgreen seeds on top and mist them with water. Place the carton in a sunny spot and mist daily until the microgreens are ready to harvest.

Seed Starters: 

You can use egg cartons as biodegradable seed starters. Cut off the lid and fill each cup with potting soil. Plant a seed in each cup and water as needed. Once the seedlings have grown, you can plant the egg carton straight into the soil as it will break down over time.

Firestarters: 

Fill each egg cup with dryer lint, sawdust, and/or shredded paper. Pour melted candle wax or paraffin over the top and let cool. Once hardened, cut apart the cups and use them as fire starters for your next camping trip or backyard fire pit.

These are just a few examples of how you can reuse old cardboard egg cartons. Get creative and see what other uses you can come up with!

Composting egg cartons is a great way to reduce waste and promote healthy gardening practices. So the next time you have an empty egg carton, don’t throw it away – put it in your compost pile and use it in your garden.

Seedlings sprouted after planting seeds in egg cartons.

FAQS

Are Egg Cartons Good for the Garden?

Although cardboard has little nutritional value for the garden, it is always better to compost or recycle egg cartons rather than send them to landfill.

Other ways egg cartons are good for your garden are by using them as biodegradable seed starters or a natural barrier for weeds. They are perfectly shaped and segmented to be used as seed starters. Fill the cardboard cartons with soil and seeds, then once they’ve sprouted, cut and plant the carton directly into the ground. Where it will decompose and provide nutrients to the soil. 

When used as weed barriers, simply place the cardboard cartons on the ground around the plants to form a weed mat. However, not all egg cartons can be good in your gardens. Some may contain harmful chemicals or additives. I advised using a cardboard carton that is free from any dyes or coatings. 

Are Eggs Okay to Add to Your Compost Bin if They Still Have the White and the Yolk?

Yes, adding eggshells to your compost bin is an excellent way to add essential nutrients. Try to bury eggs at least a foot into the compost and cover with a well-fitted lid to deter unwanted animals from searching for a midnight snack!  

Can You Start Plants in Egg Cartons?

Egg cartons make great starters for seedlings. As the individual compartments provide a controlled environment in which plants can thrive. To start, fill each compartment with potting soil and sprinkle seeds onto the surface of the soil. Water and within 7-10 days you should start to see seedlings emerge!

How Do You Dispose of Raw Expired Eggs?

There are two options for disposing of raw expired eggs – compost or trash. 

To trash, wrap eggs securely in a newspaper or a plastic bag and place them in the trash. It is important to make sure that no wildlife can access it and cause a safety hazard.

When composting expired eggs, bury them at least a foot into the middle of your compost pile and cover them over, ensuring you have a heavy, well-secured lid. This is important to keep cats and wild animals out.

eggs in a compost pile. Learning can egg cartons be composted
Eggs can be composted but should be buried a foot into the center of the compost pile to avoid scavenging animals.

Can I Use Rotten Eggs in My Garden?

Yes, you can use rotten eggs in your garden. Rotten eggs are an excellent source of nitrogen, phosphorus, and magnesium that help your plants grow. They also help break down organic matter in the soil, making it easier for your plants to take up other nutrients. 

Just ensure that rotten eggs are buried at least a foot into the center of your compost pile and then covered with a well-secured lid to keep wild animals out.

Are Egg Cartons Green or Brown Compost?

Egg cartons are usually made from recycled paper products, foam, or thin PET plastic. When an egg carton is made from recycled paper products, it can be used in “brown” composting. Since paper products are high in carbon like dried leaves, straw, and shredded paper. 

To add a paper-made egg carton to your compost, simply cut it into smaller pieces. Mix it with compost and cover them with “green’ compost materials such as vegetable and fruit trimmings. 

However, foam and PET plastic egg cartons are non-biodegradable items. But you can always recycle it into useful materials rather than throwing them away. 

Can Egg Cartons be put in a Bokashi Bin?

Yes, egg cartons can generally be added to a bokashi bin.

Egg cartons are made from cardboard, which is a good source of carbon for the bokashi bin. However, it’s important to note that some egg cartons may have a plastic or wax coating that may not be suitable for composting. If your egg cartons have a plastic or wax coating, it’s best to avoid putting them in the bokashi bin and instead dispose of them in the regular trash.

For a full guide to what can and can’t be put in a bokashi bin, check out my helpful guide on what to add to bokashi.

Additionally, it’s important to cut or tear the egg cartons into smaller pieces before adding them to the bokashi bin. This will help speed up the composting process and ensure that the microbes have easy access to the material.

Can Egg Cartons be Added to a Worm Farm?

Yes, egg cartons can go in a worm farm as bedding material for the worms. Egg cartons are made of cardboard, which is a great source of carbon for the worm farm, and they also provide a nice structure for the worms to move around in.

To prepare the egg cartons for your worm farm, tear them into small pieces or strips, and moisten them with water before adding them to the worm bedding. This will help the worms to break down the egg cartons more easily and efficiently.

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About the Author

Elle Reed is a passionate gardener and advocate for teaching beginner gardeners how to grow their own food. Elle’s mission is to inspire and empower people to get back to basics, grow their own produce, and embrace a sustainable lifestyle. “Whether it’s a few herb pots in an apartment, a potager or a full garden plot, we can all ‘start somewhere’ to grow our own food, and in doing so, provide healthier food for ourselves and those we love”.