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Supermarket Buying Guide: Eggs

Egg Cartons: What's Best?

by Edward R. Blonz, Ph.D.  

More often than not, eggs are packaged in white foam cartons (polystyrene, recycling code #6) and not the familiar old cardboard cartons. Some are now sold in clear plastic (PET, recycling code #1). Which is best? It’s the plastic-versus-paper debate all over again, with few clear answers.

Producers say that foam cartons protect eggs better and maintain a cold temperature longer, while some environmentalists argue that cardboard cartons, which typically use recycled paper, are themselves recyclable and biodegradable. But clear PET containers are also recyclable. Technically, so are foam cartons, but only if your community accepts them, which many are starting to do. And some foam cartons and plastic clamshells are now also made of recycled materials.

In the end, it's a toss-up, so we suggest that you check your community’s recycling program and use that to guide you.

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