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What is an Egg Carton?

By Bethany Keene
Updated Feb 17, 2024
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An egg carton is a container designed to transport and protect eggs. Each egg rests in an individual cup to prevent it bumping into the other eggs and potentially cracking them. The egg carton was invented in 1911 by Joseph Coyle.

Egg cartons are made out of different materials, but usually either polystyrene foam, plastic, or recycled paper and molded pulp. Some say that egg cartons are made out of Styrofoam™ but Styrofoam™ is polystyrene foam that is a trademark of the Dow Chemical Company and is not used to make food products, such as cups, plates or egg cartons. Egg cartons differ from egg trays in that the trays are generally much larger than cartons, and are used to transport a larger number of eggs.

It is possible to order egg cartons or egg trays wholesale online. They are offered in different sizes, for different sized eggs, and in various materials. Some are biodegradable; if this is important to you, be sure to verify before you order.

Once an egg carton has been emptied of eggs, if the carton is made of plastic or paper, it should be recycled. If it is made of polystyrene foam, there is a good chance that the egg carton cannot be recycled. In that case, there are many ways to reuse egg cartons.

One helpful way to reuse egg cartons is to use them for packaging materials. They are essentially the same as using foam peanuts or other Styrofoam™ inserts. Egg cartons are also great for crafts projects. You might use an egg carton to store craft supplies, such as beads of thread. An egg carton could also be used for candle or soap molds. Kids love to make things out of egg cartons, and it helps them to be creative -- some teachers might even accept egg cartons to use for projects in class.

If you are starting seeds for a garden, an egg carton is a great place to begin growing seedlings that can be transferred to a larger container later. You might also use them to store small, fragile holiday ornaments during other seasons. If you shop at a farmer's market, bring an egg carton with you to refill. A little creativity and effort will go a long way.

It is important to recycle and reuse as much waste as possible to prevent pollution and keep landfills from filling. Egg cartons have many possible uses and should not simply be tossed in the trash. It is also a great way to teach your kids about living in an environmentally friendly way.

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Discussion Comments

By Ivan83 — On Apr 16, 2012

I use an old egg carton to store screws and other small pieces of loose hardware. I keep the carton on my workbench so I have easy access to almost any hardware I need.

Larger screws I keep in old peanut butter containers. Most of my workshop is pieced together from things that I have salvaged.

By nextcorrea — On Apr 16, 2012

A paper egg carton is a great tool to sprout seeds in the spring time. You fill each egg cavity with soil, put a seed in each pod and add a little bit of water. Once the seed sprouts you can easily transplant the seedling to a larger pot. When you are done you simply recycle or compost the egg carton. Could not be easier.

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