Can I put egg cartons in my compost?

QUESTION: Can I put egg cartons in my compost?

ANSWER: Many egg cartons are made of paperboard, so they’re perfectly fine to include in your compost pile. Use egg cartons in composting just as you would paper, and count them as part of your brown ratio because of the carbon they contain. One condition, however, is that you should make sure the egg cartons are dry and clean before you compost them. Of course, don’t add the ones made of styrofoam or other plastic materials!

If the carton is wet, that more than likely means an egg was cracked along the way somehwere and leaked onto the cardboard of the carton. You wouldn’t want to include an egg carton that had gotten messy with egg because, like meat, fish, grease, and other dairy products, eggs can cause both smells and pest problems when they’re used as part of the composting materials. For the same reason, if you place eggshells back in the spot they came from in the egg carton whenever you crack an egg, you should skip the eggshell cartons when you’re adding items to your compost bin. 

As a side note, you’d need to throw our hypothetical sloppy egg carton into the trash can instead of using the recycling bin. Many people don’t realize that food products or even just food residue should not be included when you’re separating your trash to send things to be recycled.) If you want to recycle substances that are tainted from coming into contact with food, like the cans from your vegetables, the guideline is to rinse out the material you’ll be recycling.

Make sure to clean things well so they are completely cleared of all food residue before you add the trash to your recycling bin. When it’s impossible to separate the food residue from whatever you’re throwing away, as is the case with greasy pizza boxes, for example, or our soiled egg cartons, you should throw the trash that’s been contaminated with food into the standard garbage can  instead of recycling it.