Are Milk Cartons Recyclable?

Milk cartons are a common waste item at home. Milk cartons are actually the most commonly produced packaging in the US.

They contribute 78 million tons of waste to landfills per year alone. The average American household throws away over 100 milk cartons each year.

We’ve been doing this for decades. If you can do the math, then kudos for actually being able to do it, because we tried and the number was too big.

Are Milk Cartons Recyclable?

But the answer we got did tell us that there’s way too much waste going on. It’s no secret that we’re in a climate crisis.

Try and deny it, but the evidence is all around us. We’re seeing the decay of our planet in real-time and contributing to it on a daily basis.

Recycling is one of the few things under our control that we can do to help. But are milk cartons recyclable?

To answer that we need to have a quick look at what makes something recyclable.


Recycling is about reusing.

Recyclable materials are separated into different categories based on their composition. These categories include:

  • Paper – made from wood pulp or paper fibers
  • Glass – made from sand
  • Metal – made from aluminum, steel, copper, zinc, tin, lead, etc.
  • Plastics – made from oil, natural gas, coal, corn, soybeans, sugarcane, wheat, etc.
  • Textiles – made from cotton, wool, silk, linen, rayon, nylon, polyester, acrylics, spandex, etc.
  • Wood – made from trees
  • Compostables – made from food scraps

So how does recycling work? When you throw out your trash, you’re throwing out everything that isn’t recyclable.

You may not know it, but the majority of items in your trash bin are recyclable.

It might be hard to believe, but most people don’t even realize that they can recycle certain items.

For example, if you toss an empty soda bottle in the garbage, it will end up in a landfill where it will take hundreds of years to decompose.

On the other hand, if you put that same bottle in a recycling bin, it will go straight to a processing plant where it will be sorted by type.

Once processed, those bottles will be reused as new products like building material, insulation, carpeting, flooring, roofing, etc.

Are Milk Cartons Recyclable?

Yes! Milk cartons are considered recyclable. There are two main types of milk cartons:

  1. Glass bottles
  2. Plastic containers

Let’s start with glass bottles. Glass bottles are made from recycled content. This means that they contain some percentage of post-consumer (PC) glass.

PC glass comes from old bottles that were discarded after use. In order to make glass bottles, manufacturers melt down these old bottles and pour them into molds.

Some companies also use scrap glass from construction sites. The process of making glass bottles takes place in factories called “glassworks.”

Today, glassworks are very efficient and produce high-quality glass. However, when glassmaking began, it was done by hand using primitive technology.

As a result, glass production was extremely labor-intensive.

Today, glass bottles are produced by machines that cut, shape, polish, and label them before sending them off to be used.

The second type of milk carton is plastic. Plastic milk cartons are made from virgin plastics.

That means that they are made from raw materials extracted from petroleum.

How Do I Know If My Milk Carton Is Recyclable?

How Do I Know If My Milk Carton Is Recyclable?

If you see a recycling symbol on your milk carton, it’s a good sign that it’s recyclable. A recycling symbol has three arrows arranged into the shape of a triangle.

If you see a recycling logo on your milk carton it means that the manufacturer has taken steps to ensure that the product is recyclable.

The recycling symbol indicates that the company has gone through a certification program that ensures that the product meets specific standards for recyclability.

Recycling symbols come in three forms:

  1. Green – This symbol indicates that the item is made from 100% recycled content.
  2. Blue – This symbol indicates that 50% of the item’s content is recycled.
  3. Yellow – This symbol indicates that 25% of the item’s contents are recycled.

What Are The Benefits Of Recycling Your Milk Carton?

There are many benefits associated with recycling. Here are just a few:

  1. Less waste less pollution
  2. Saves money
  3. Helps protect our environment
  4. Provides jobs
  5. Makes us more energy independent
  6. Improves health
  7. Increases property values since there’s less waste
  8. Protects water quality
  9. Reduces greenhouse gas emissions
  10. Makes us more responsible citizens

Recycling your milk carton will result in more milk cartons being made, without the waste. It will also reduce the amount of trash we send to landfills.

And, it will help keep our air clean. You’ll feel great knowing that you’ve helped save the planet while saving yourself some cash.

Final Thoughts

It’s important to recycle because it helps preserve our natural resources, protects the environment, saves us money, and makes us more energy independent.

Recycling is important now so that we can protect our future.

Did you know that recycling your milk cartons alone could save enough energy to power a home for one year!

In fact, if every US household began recycling their milk cartons, then we could save millions of tons in waste a year.

It would also significantly reduce the cost of milk carton production since the packaging would be made consistently from recyclables.

If that’s not enough to make you want to recycle, then how about these shocking facts?

  1. There are over 1 billion pounds of milk cartons thrown away every day in the United States.
  2. Every day, Americans throw out about 2 million tons of paper products.
  3. Each year, Americans generate over 20 million tons of garbage.
  4. Americans throw away an average of $600 per person per year.

America is one of the biggest contributors to climate change.

From all the carbon emissions to the waste, America is the second biggest polluter. So recycling our milk cartons is the least we could do.

Jenna Bates
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