Can You Recycle Ice Cream Cartons?

Most individuals agree that a great way to reduce waste is to reuse ice cream cartons.

Some bars also sell tossable plastic churn tubs in which you can store your frozen ice cream before freezing it for more appealing tastes. Some entrepreneurs even created reusable ice cream cups that exactly what you need for your next social gathering.

So, can you recycle ice cream cartons? The short answer to can you recycle ice cream cartons is NO.

Most manufacturers do not design their packaging to be recyclable or reusable, as their products expire rather quickly.

The recycling companies seldom accept these boxes as they just don’t have the facilities to sort them and turn them into something else.

Can You Recycle Ice Cream Cartons?

It is not possible at all to recycle an ice cream carton because it is mainly made of cardboard and foil that cannot undergo recycling processes due to the fact that they ignite and melt.

You’d be hard-pressed to locate an ice-cream carton manufacturer that has ever designed a recyclable or reusable package, and for good reason.

The ice cream container’s main components are cardboard and foil, which are both difficult to recycle.

The ice cream carton’s wet-strengthened paper wrapper can also catch on fire in recycling equipment.

This implies it can withstand humidity, light, heat, moisture and other environmental variables.

If you’ve ever seen a paper recycling process, you know that shredded paper is turned into pulp which is used for a slew of materials other than paper.

They can only recycle the paper if they are in rigid containers such as cans or cartons.

Recycling becomes difficult since the wet-strengthened paper wrapper can pose a fire hazard when shredded with other paper products, and the foil cannot be melted down or recycled.

So, if you’ve been storing ice cream cartons in recycling bins for years, stop doing it.

The plastic coating on the cardboard is also non-recyclable and can contaminate other recycled plastic if that’s what it’s being recycled into So, the question isn’t can you recycle ice cream cartons.

If your local recycling center accepts ice cream containers at all, then the answer is yes.

What To Do If You Can Recycle Ice Cream Cartons

Some localities allow ice cream cartons to be disposed of with regular recyclables as long as they are empty and dry.

These localities will include frozen food cartons in regular recycling facilities only if they are empty and dry (no dairy or ice cream).

This information should be listed on the Blue Bin or on your recycling bins website under collection services.

Before dumping your ice cream carton in the recycling bin, make sure it’s clean, dry and empty of any edible material.

The reason for this is because residue from food can contaminate the recycling facility’s equipment, potentially causing hundreds of thousands of dollars in damage.

Make sure any food residue is removed and that it’s not sticky or wet.

This involves washing the container to remove residue and then drying it thoroughly before placing it in the recycling bin.

You may place the container with the lid off in the bin for an easier removal because it will save you the time of having to remove the container lid from the bin once it goes into the facility.

What To Do If You Can’t Recycle Ice Cream Cartons

Unfortunately, if your city does not accept empty ice cream cartons for recycling, then you’ll have to place them in the trash.

Though this is inconvenient for recycling enthusiasts, it’s far better than contaminating the recycling facility’s machinery.

You may, of course, attempt to remove the lid from the container and wash it thoroughly, but it certainly isn’t necessary in that case.

You might, for example, wipe out the carton and throw it away in your household trash.

You could also wish to reuse the container to hold other things—such as small toys or food items—before tossing it in the trash.

Even so, you’ll have to do this at your own risk because any food residue on the container—as well as other contaminants—could cause those other items to become contaminated.

Are Ice Cream Cartons Biodegradable?

Yes, ice cream containers are biodegradable.

You may be wasting your time if recycling them, so it’s not worth the effort.

It’s not that they won’t biodegrade; it’s that your waste-pickup service won’t accept them.

Are Ice Cream Cartons Compostable?

The ice cream carton is biodegradable and made from an eco-friendly material (polyethylene) so that it can be recycled or composted.

If the ice cream cartons still contain ice cream liquid or solid items, then they must be rinsed out before being put into the compost bin or recycle bin.

The explanation for not accepting the ice cream cartons in your recycling is to avoid contaminating the other recyclables in the bin.

It couldn’t break down in any type of composting environment as it does contain other items.

Even if you shred the ice cream cartons before putting them into the compost bin, it’s still not a good idea since it could be contaminated by other food wastes.

Also See: Can You Recycle Radiators?


As you can see, there are numerous ways to reuse ice cream cartons or recycle them without harming the environment.

But most manufacturers and ice cream stores advise against it since they really don’t have any other option.

So, next time, instead of throwing away your empty ice cream cartons, try to reuse them or recycle them in a way that doesn’t harm the environment.