When deciding on new packaging for our organic eggs in 2012, we wanted to know which type of carton would reflect our B Corp values and dedication to the environment. So we worked with a third-party to conduct a life cycle anaylsis of the options available on the market. They found (what is now our) RPET plastic to be "vastly superior" to pulp. Read on to learn more.
Words by: Jesse Laflamme
A question that we get a lot usually goes like this: “I love your eggs and your commitment to animal welfare and the environment, but why do you use plastic egg cartons? Isn’t that worse for the environment?”
It’s an excellent question. We’ve all come to see plastic as bad. It’s derived from a non-renewable source (oil), it doesn’t decompose for a very long time, and these days, a lot of it is winding into the oceans (see Pacific Garbage Patch and Microbeads Pollution). So it’s understandable that it has a bad reputation.
On the other hand, the molded pulp cartons and the polystyrene foam cartons are not environmental home runs either, for many of the same reasons. So what’s a well-meaning person to do?
We hired Quantis, a Canadian research company specializing in the environmental impact of products, to do a complete Comparative Environmental Life Cycle Assessment of Egg Cartons for us in 2012.
Quantis looked across the raw material sourcing, manufacturing, packaging, transportation, and end of life/recycling aspects for RPET (our recycled PET clear package), virgin PET, Recycled Molded Pulp (RMP) and Polystyrene (commonly known as styrofoam). They scored that as a total Carbon/Climate Change footprint score based on all of those life stages. They also scored them on the basis of Human Health, Ecosystem Quality, and Resource Depletion measures.
The RPET carton that we use was determined to be superior, or vastly superior, to both the Molded Pulp and Polystyrene as a whole, and across all of the individual life stages, with the one exception – it has a slightly higher manufacturing impact than recycled pulp. It is worth noting that the worst option was typically the PET plastic made from virgin plastic. That’s because of the high amount of fossil fuels required both as energy and raw material in its production. This is what large 2-liter soda bottles are made from (so think about that the next time you’re considering buying soda). We take the recycled material from those containers to make our cartons. The tri-fold PET also has an important consumer benefit in that it provides the best protection for the eggs while allowing you to see the unbroken eggs without opening the carton in the store.
Once used, our cartons can then be placed right back in the recycling stream for another trip through the system. Paper pulp can also be recycled. Styrofoam all goes to the landfill to wait for the end of time.
While we wish we could sell our eggs in wooden boxes or wicker baskets that were re-used over and over, we feel as though we’ve arrived at the best possible solution we can for the time being. We ask that you always recycle your Pete and Gerry’s cartons after use and we can continue to keep our carbon footprint as low as possible. And thank you for bringing our eggs home in a reusable canvas bag as well.
May 19, 2019
How do I know these plastic containers are actually being recycled?
May 20, 2019
Great question, Nancy. The most important step to take to ensure that your recyclables are actually being recycled is to make sure they're clean before bringing them to your local transfer station. As for our takeback cartons (which you may have read about in the comments here), we are storing them in an empty barn and will be bringing them up to our carton manufacturer's facilities ourselves to ensure that they're being recycled in a responsible way.
May 18, 2019
I do everything I can to recycle as much as possible. My question how do I recycle your cartons? With other plastics, metal etc?
Hi Todd. Thanks for the question, it's a great one. Our cartons are considered a #1 plastic. The way you recycle in your community may be different than another person's way. Do you have trash and recycling pick up curbside or do you take your items to the recycling center? Typically our cartons can be recycled with any type of other plastic with the same #1 number on it. Usually plastics are sorted by number, but some places have 'zero sort' facilities where everything is put in one container and they sort it for you. Water bottles, juice containers, salad containers, etc. These are examples of #1 plastic. It may be best to contact your local town/city office and ask to speak to the waste management or recycling center. They can point you in the right direction. We're happy to help you find yours if you'd like to send us an email at: [email protected] Thanks for the great question!
May 17, 2019
I think the trifold cartons have three issues (one is not addressed by other commenters): the cartons vary quite a bit as to how thick the plastic is. Some are reasonably stiff, but some are so thin and flexible that on more than one occasion I came close to spilling all the eggs out onto the floor trying to open it without setting it on the counter first. The issues already mentioned are, some entire regions have no recycling at all, so you have only the advantage of the first cycle from soda bottles (wherever you get them, not my area.) The other is the added hassle of the inner cover. For ease of handling, water resistance, and low weight, I think the styrofoam is best. It may not break down in a landfill, but it burns great.
Your eggs have shells twice as tough as common eggs, so much added protection comes from your flock.
Thanks for the feedback, Stan. You're right, there can be a little variance on the plastic thickness, it all depends on what is being recycled and remade into the cartons. So sorry o hear that you've had this issue. As for recycling availability, we do understand that some locations are not able to do so, which is why we're glad to have introduced a take-back program. We will actually pay the shipping to get the cartons back, so that we can recycle them. Thank you for sharing your thoughts, and if you'd like to hear more about the program or have any other questions, please do let us know!
May 13, 2019
please let me know the best way and where to recycle your egg packaging.
May 14, 2019
Thanks for your question, Elizabeth! Our containers are made out of the most widely recycled plastic material (#1 plastic), so you should just be able to take them to your local recycling center. If for some reason they wouldn't accept them, you can always mail them back to us through our takeback program, which you can learn more about by emailing us at [email protected] Used cartons also make great organizational containers for things like ornaments and desk supplies, paint palettes for kids, and even craft project supplies like you'll see in our Instagram posts.
April 29, 2019
This is a really great resource!So much useful information and handy tips, thank you =)
April 30, 2019
Of course, Darrell! Thank you so much for taking the time to read through all this information and we appreciate you sharing your thoughts as well!
Hello Again, A thought about your take back program. How about finding a way to sterilize and re-use your take back containers that are in perfect condition upon return.
That is a great idea, Ken, but unfortunately, FDA and USDA food safety rules ban us from reusing our cartons in that manner. The reason our takeback program is permitted is because those cartons are fully melted and re-molded into new cartons and other product packaging. If you have any other questions, please let us know, and thanks again for your comments!
While I agree with your concept of using RPET in your new cartons removing used Virgin PET From the waste stream, I see this as problematic on two fronts. The first one is that in providing a market for used virgin PET, you are just adding to the excuses manufacturers can quote when using virgin PET to contain their products. The second problem I have is that overall, only about 10% of recyclable collected are actually recycled into new products. With china no longer collecting outside plastic and the USA being the major consumer of worldwide plastics, the chain is broken. Unfortunately, the carbon trapped in plastic are accumulating in our oceans, in the air (even in Greenland and the Antarctic) as microparticles. I believe that Pulp containers are a better choice. Paper products come from a renewable resource - trees - that keep peoples in our forest areas employed and can be sustainable through proper forst management practices. Additionally, through composting, the carbon that captured in paper can be recycled back into plants and the earth soil. Sad to say, your plastic packaging has eliminated your products from my grocery choices.
We're sorry to hear that, Ken, and while we do still feel that we have chosen our cartons for the right reasons in consideration of both our customers and the planet, we respect your decision and hope you are able to find what you are looking for in the egg aisle. I will be sure to share your feedback with my team.
April 27, 2019
This is a huge concern of mine! Thanks for the effort and info
Our pleasure, Natalie! We saw your other comment about our takeback program as well. Please email us at [email protected] and we'll get you set up!
April 24, 2019
Confirming that the "Tri-Fold PET" that you talked about is actually made from R-PET and not regular/virgin PET
April 25, 2019
That's correct, SS. Our tri-fold cartons are made from RPET, but since virgin PET tri-fold cartons are a fairly common option in the egg aisle, we made sure that they were represented in the life cycle analysis as well (and as expected, they have a higher carbon footprint than post-consumer PET). We hope that helps clarify those terms!
April 06, 2019
Hello, I love your eggs but wanted to know if your egg cartons have BPA in the plastic?
April 08, 2019
Great question, Mary! Our cartons are made from #1 plastic and they do not have any BPA in them. If you have any other questions, please let us know!
April 05, 2019
Plastic is not accepted in all curbside recycling pick up programs, therefore for those communities your cartons go straight to a landfill. Please consider using a more sustainable environmentally-friendly packaging. I love your eggs and I'd like to continue to eat them. Thank you and have a great day!
That's a great point, Patricia, and we recognize that not all of our customers have access to recycling which is why we have started a Takeback Program where consumers can mail their cartons back to us free of charge. We then gather them up once we have a large quantity and take them back to our carton manufacturer to be melted down and turned into new recycled packaging. Thank you for sharing your thoughts, and if you'd like to hear more about the program or have any other questions, please do let us know!
Please let me know how I can return the carton to you! Since China has stopped taking our recyclables, they are piling up at our shores etc.
April 04, 2019
What is happening with the egg cartons being sent back to you? What do you recycle them into? Just curious.
Great question, Julie! We've set aside some barn storage space here at our home farm for these takeback cartons, and once we have enough, they'll be taken up to our carton manufacturer's facilities to be melted and molded into new cartons and other product packaging. If you have any other questions, please feel free to let us know!
March 30, 2019
All well and good but as I understand it your store display cartons are made from 100% recycled plastics. However, they themselves are not biodegradable.
Love your eggs but aren't in love with your packaging, especially the triple fold idea on the eggs. Isn't that alone using 30-50% more plastic just to do that little trick? (not to mention old fumble fingers here struggling to get it open).
April 02, 2019
You're absolutely right, Wayne: our cartons are made from 100% post-consumer recycled plastic, and while they aren't biodegradable, they can be recycled again and again. Our intention for the double top design was to create a carton that does an even better job of protecting the eggs than molded paper pulp or Polystyrene. Here's a tip for opening our cartons that might help: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qWU1UhcUYuI. Please let us know if we can answer any follow-up questions!
March 23, 2019
I love your eggs and buy them from Kroger in South east Michigan.
Something to promote about your cartons would be the double protection you have. A picture is great too. I am sharing my egg cartons with farmers to recycle. They really like them. These cartons support the eggs really well. Your picture should reflect this double protection factor.
March 26, 2019
You are absolutely right, Jennifer, and thank you so much for sharing your thoughts. We do definitely talk about our cartons offering some extra protection for our eggs as that is of course a consideration in addition to the environmental impact, but I will pass your suggestion along to my team that we do a better job of highlighting that trait in pictures. We really appreciate your feedback and the initiative you are taking to put our empty cartons to good use!
March 19, 2019
I certainly applaud you for going to the trouble and cost to research your packaging material. Would it be possible to see a copy of the research? You are making quite a few claims and I would like to see the data that supports them. Delicious eggs!
March 20, 2019
Hello Ed. Thank you for taking the time to reach out. We're absolutely happy to email a copy of the study. Please send us an email to: [email protected] and we'll get it right out to you. Thanks!
March 17, 2019
Oregon has limited their recycling to very few items which bums all of us who care about the earth out! So your cartons end up in the garbage. Wish there was another option.
Your eggs are the best! The $2 price increase has made it harder for me on fixed income to warrant buying. I will though when I feel my budget can handle it!
Thanks for sharing your concerns with us, Bonnie, and we hear you. We have started a Takeback Program as Taylor mentioned below, that allows customers to send us their used cartons for proper recycling at no cost to them, so please email us at [email protected] if you’re interested in learning more, and we’d be happy to get you set up for a shipment. Also, we haven’t actually increased our prices, but as we sell our eggs wholesale, it is the stores they are purchased at who determine the final pricing, and likely where that $2 came from. We do like to provide some great coupons and promotions to give back to our wonderful customers to offset the higher cost of our eggs, and we invite you to check those out here: https://www.peteandgerrys.com/offers-promotions.
March 15, 2019
Wow I came here to email you about my plastic concern. I was feeling so conflicted buying your eggs in the seemingly excessive, folding, plastic package. But I'm thankful to see you've looked into it so heavily, and even being an B Corp makes me want to support your company. At some stores I've seen the "loose egg" style, where you can bring your own carton and get eggs from a big basket... not that I expect Safeway or big chains to adopt this, but what if??? I would love to see that as an option to entirely wipe out the need for individual packages for consumers.
March 16, 2019
Hi Hannah! We appreciate that you took the time to read up on our practices and our choice to use RPET cartons. We know it's not a perfect solution, but we're proud of the stance we've taken to ensure recycling these water bottles that would otherwise end up in the environment. Your suggestion of offering a "loose egg" style is a good one, and something we'll be sure to consider for future offerings. Thank you for the feedback!
May 10, 2019
I had the same thought as Hannah regarding supplying small local stores with eggs in bulk where we could bring a basket or carton that we reuse to buy eggs. Have you considered creating a channel to facilitate this?
Absolutely, Cynthia! We're actually looking into a bulk offering with reusable cartons locally. This is something that's nearly impossible to do on a national scale, but that doesn't mean we won't try. We'll definitely share any updates and learnings from our trials!
March 10, 2019
I appreciate the work you put in to developing the most environmentally friendly container for your eggs. I think it's getting clearer that little of our recycled materials are actually getting recycled, especially with China apparently no longer taking our recycling. In one of the comment threads below, you mentioned a "take back" program. Have you implemented this, and how would it work. Thank you.
March 11, 2019
Thank you for your thoughtful comment, Taber. Our takeback program is in full swing and will have an official spot on our website very soon! To participate, we ask consumers to save up at least 10 cartons (the more the better, as this helps keep the transportation footprint low) and package them in a recycled box or mailer. From there, we can calculate the weight of your package and email you a prepaid label to affix to the package. The package can be mailed at your local post office or blue box, and once we receive it, we'll put your cartons in the storage space that we've set aside in one of our empty barns. Once the barn is full, we'll bring the entire load of cartons up north to our carton manufacturer, where the cartons will be melted back down and reformed into new cartons and other packaging. Feel free to send us an email at [email protected] if you'd like to participate!
March 08, 2019
Interesting comments on packaging. I reviewed your life cycle analysis information and as a person with experience in such studies, you are doing the right thing with your packaging choice (recyclers out there, you must learn to accept life cycle analysis of materials management). However, I beg you to change the wording about the cartons being recyclable! The cartons MAY be recyclable in some communities, so please encourage your customers to check for available recycling options on your website. Every city and county has different programs and these cartons likely should not go in "commingled" recycling carts. Thank you!
Thank you so much for taking the time to look through that study, Cathy, as it is certainly not a light read given we wanted to be very thorough in our analysis. We always appreciate when we can hear from informed customers who are passionate about issues such as recycling, and I will be sure to pass your recommendations along to the rest of my team. Since we also recognize that access to recycling of our cartons can be an issue for some consumers, we are also in the process of launching a Takeback Program that will allow customers to send the cartons back to us at no charge to them. We will then be able to take responsibility for making sure they end up where they should be, and we encourage you to look out for more on that in the coming months. Thank you, again, for your thoughtful feedback!
March 05, 2019
I don't see anything on the egg carton that claims it is recyclable. Why is that? Thanks.
March 06, 2019
Hi Julie! There is indeed a recycling mark, but it can be difficult to see. On most cartons, it is pressed in to the center of one of the rounded plastic egg cups that protect the top of the eggs once you have opened the smooth carton piece that has the label attached to it. Hopefully that helps, and if you have any other questions, please let us know!
March 02, 2019
Wow, what a thread - this shows to me that compassionate and articulate people love your high quality eggs, your company and the decisions you have to make to create and deliver your product. Good people all around!
Not to discount any of the arguments here, but I'd encourage folks to empower themselves to find a suitable use for these cartons, and share these solutions with the world.
No solution is perfect, and none of us righteous, we all have a footprint. (We are eating animal products, delivered by trucks.)
We completely agree, Chris. It's truly wonderful to see the care and thought that our consumers put into the products they choose to purchase. Needless to say we feel incredibly lucky to have such compassionate people rooting for us. Thank you so much for your thoughtful comment.
March 01, 2019
It might be necessary to revisit your study now that China is no longer taking our recycled plastic. Most plastic... even what is taken to the recycling centers is now going to the landfills. The world is changing... we need to all be on board. Your business model is appreciated. If only more producers would choose to adopt sustainable practices...
Hi Bev! We completely acknowledge that the issue of recycling is an ever changing and progressing conversation and we are absolutely reevaluating our role in being environmentally conscious based on those changes. In response to concerns from customers just like you, we've created a form to gather all customer feedback to inform future packaging innovation and we would love to have you let us know any additional thoughts, suggestions, or concerns you have there: http://fal.cn/PGOfeedback. Thanks again for reaching out to us, and we look forward to passing your feedback along to our packaging team.
February 24, 2019
I feel better knowing that I can put these egg cartons in the recycling. But I still think cardboard would be better.
February 25, 2019
We hear you, Jenine. If you'd like to peruse our life cycle analysis, we'd love to send you a copy of it! Just email us at [email protected] if that's of interest. And if you have any specific questions about our decision to use RPET instead of paper, please let us know.
Thanks for sharing this information. I came to your website for this specific question. Love your eggs. I am trying to eliminate plastic from my day to day. Not a perfect solution as you say and unfortunately many towns don't really recycle any more. The cardboard could at least be composted but I have not done any research into how each option is made. Could you give more information on why the molded pulp worse than the plastic? Maybe share some specific data from you study. I hope better solutions are around the corner.
Hi Joanne, absolutely! Do you mind sending us an email at [email protected]? We'd love to send you a copy of the study and direct you to the specific findings and data that ultimately influenced our decision to use RPET the most.
February 20, 2019
I don't think you really answered the question why your RPET container is better than molded pulp. And frankly there is a question if all the plastic we put into recycle cans for pickup actually get recycled. Also your tri- fold egg carton increases the need for plastic by 1/3. Not the direction I want to go in trying to be environmentally conscious.
I've accepted I need to pay more for organic eggs, but I think I need to be more focused on getting my eggs from the local farmer to assuage my environment guilt and continue the best nutrition. But until I decide on my local source I will continue with Pete and Gerry.
Your comments are welcome
February 22, 2019
Hi Joan, we're sorry that our explanation about our choice to use the RPET container was not clear here. Essentially, we did a study with Quantis, an independent research company, and have found that RPET cartons have a much smaller carbon footprint throughout their life-cycle.
Our RPET egg cartons approach “carbon neutral” and generate significantly less environmental impact than comparable plastic cartons. If you send us an email at [email protected] we'd be happy to send you the entire study report. This style of packaging is also sturdier than those made from other materials, so our cartons can be packed more tightly and efficiently in our transport trucks, producing fewer fuel emissions to get to their respective store locations.
We know it's on us as a company to encourage our consumers to recycle, which is why we created our take-back program to help consumers without access to #1 recycling to dispose of their cartons responsibly.
Unfortunately, our waste system is far from perfect: the majority of our landfills are not designed or able to biodegrade because they’re compact and anaerobic environments. In other words, their function in our society, at this current moment at least, is to store garbage rather than break it down. This is why we're so passionate about having our cartons recycled. We hope this explanation helps clarify our stance!
February 18, 2019
Thank you so much for going the trouble to research the best possible way to package your eggs. It sounds tough that our recycling containers (all recycles) have no where to go. There has to be a better way. Thank you again for trying to help our precious environment!
I think you can try harder to be eliminate the plastic packaging
Thanks for the kind words, Judy. It was important to us to base our decision on research, and we're glad to know that it matters to you, too!
February 11, 2019
I bought eggs this morning and the only reason I didn’t choose your eggs was the plastic carton. I wanted to see if that was addressed on your website and if fact it was. I’m still a little unclear as to if the cardboard or plastic is better. As you mention plastic has a bad impression on many so why do you use it? Yes I understand it’s made from recycled plastics but wouldn’t it be easier to stop using plastic at all?
February 12, 2019
Thank you for the thoughtful questions, Micah. The conclusion we drew from our independent study was that in terms of carbon footprint and emissions, RPET cartons are more earth-friendly. So although plastic is often seen in a negative light, the reality is that 100% post-consumer recycled packaging like ours is actually helping to reduce the amount of plastic that's in the waste stream, primarily by using water bottles that are already in circulation. We hope this helps explain our decision more clearly!
Can you ask me why entire countries only use Pulp packaging? I will never buy your Organic eggs unless they are in a pulp carton. Did you know Eggs in Australia only come in Pulp packaging? Sorry but you are off the mark with the statement that your Plastic packaging isn't any more harmful to the planet than Pulp. Do you realize most American's don't recycle.
February 09, 2019
You changed your packaging while China was still taking our “clams” can your cartons still be recycled on the west coast?
Hi Laura! Thanks for reaching out to us. I'm actually out on the west coast, and I can tell you confidently that in my area, #1 RPET cartons are accepted out here in the zero sort recycling program. There may be some exceptions to this rule, depending on your location, but even so, we've introduced a take-back program - we pay to have the cartons shipped to us from our consumers, and have it recycled. It's a new pilot program we have started in 2019 and so far has been working well. If this may be of interest, we'd love to hear from you, feel free to drop us a line and we can get you the information: [email protected]
I'm on the East coast but I'm interested and would support a mail-back to you of your egg cartons. Until I get settled on this plastic problem I will reach out a local farmer's eggs instead of Pete and Gerry, unfortunately
Hi Joan! We launched a takeback program late last year (we plan on posting all the details front and center on our website this year) that allows consumers - especially those without local access to recycling - to store their cartons and mail them back to us in bulk. We've set aside some barn storage space here at our home farm for these takeback cartons, and once we have enough, they'll be taken up to our carton manufacturer's facilities to be melted and molded into new cartons and other product packaging. Beyond this program, we'll continue to educate and encourage these thoughtful and crucial practices whenever possible. Please feel free to drop us a line when you have some cartons ready to send and we'll be glad to get a prepaid label to you. Thanks for supporting our small family farms on all coasts.
I save my cartons and take them to the Amish farmers for packaging their eggs to sell at farmers market.
That's a great idea and a great way to reuse the cartons! Thanks for the tip, Mary!
February 07, 2019
Hi, I wanted to comment on the egg carton - I noticed there were several broken eggs in the cartons in the store so I made certain that I got an carton without broken ones. In spite of that, when I go home, one of the eggs had broken. The carton is just too flimsy on the bottom. So I can appreciate your decision in terms of recycling but I will avoid that type of carton from now on.
Hi Karen. Thank you for taking the time to reach out to us. We're very sorry to hear about the broken eggs in your carton. We find we actually have less broken eggs in these cartons overall, but understand that sometimes things can happen once the eggs leave the farm. We'd be glad to look into this issue and replace the eggs for you. Would you be able to send us a message to: [email protected] ? If you happen to have the specific carton information on the side of the packaging that includes the use by date, letters and numbers alongside it, it would be most helpful. Thank you for letting us know about this, we'll watch for your message.
February 02, 2019
Thanks for the explanation about the cartons. I was about to complain.
February 04, 2019
Our pleasure, Larry. We're always here to help if you have questions or concerns, so please don't hesitate to reach out any time!
January 20, 2019
why couldn't we drop off the cartons at the stores & have your delivery trucks pickup empties, when delivering eggs, to be taken to your facilities, cleaned & sanitized & reused by you?
January 21, 2019
Great question! The network of deliveries tends to be a bit more complicated than that--there are transfers and distribution along the way making the transfer process full of transition points. The FDA has very strict guidelines on sanitation and washing of cartons, which would also make it impossible for us to reuse the cartons. However, we are unrolling a new take-back program where consumers can mail us their cartons back directly so that we can responsibly recycle them. Thank you for sharing your ideas!
As an egg eating consumer, I can't thank you enough for your responsible approach to the researching and choosing of packaging. As a budding permaculturist, I just tore up my first cardboard egg container and tossed it into my composter. I'm on the verge of adding worm composting to my list. I'm wondering if cardboard egg cartons could be feasibly added to yard waste. Now that China stopped buying US recyclables in the past year, it seems all the more important to remove recyclables from the food chain unless they can be re-recycled. Time for some more American innovation to replace the role of the Chinese.
Thank you for providing your unique and thoughtful perspective! We absolutely believe in research and science-backed approaches to our choices that have environmental impacts. It's on us as a company to educate our consumers and to push the U.S. to find innovative ways to recycle items, whether they're plastic or not, so that we can become better environmental stewards.
January 16, 2019
Life Cycle Analysis does not currently take into account the impact of plastics in the ocean, or the common end-of-life scenario in which these containers are shipped abroad for recycling and end up burning in open dumps. Nor are they currently able to account for new research showing that plastics in the environment emit methane. Also, most recycling programs around the US, including in eco-friendly Portland Oregon, are not currently taking this type of molded plastic container for recycling. I appreciate the dedication to find the most truly environmental option for your products, but a deeper look at LCA shows that this is not yet an accurate assessment for today's realities. I hope that you will continue to investigate and push for reusable packaging options, at which point I will surely seek out your products! Would you be willing to share the Quantis report? Thank you.
Hi there! We'd be glad to email this to you. Would you mind sending us an email to: [email protected] ? We'd be glad to send the study your way. Thanks!
January 03, 2019
While "paper" cartons would be better, they also create a LOT of trash. I like your idea of having the cartons returned and what will you then do with them? Recycling only postpones the problem rather than solving or improving on it. What's really needed is a way that you (and others) can RE-FILL those plastic cartons/containers. The problem with plastic is not that it lasts forever but that we have decided a Forever Product can only be used ONE time - call me crazy, but this makes no sense. Why not use the plastic carton or container for the same product again and again and ...? But, maybe the real question is not "why not" but "how" - as in how could we go from single use to infinite use of a single carton rather than single use of infinite cartons???. Until that happens, another option might be to offer your eggs on reusable bulk palettes and we could supply our own take-home containers..
Seems to me that the problem with this would be getting the cartons back to P&G's.
January 15, 2019
Paper cartons can be given to friends and neighbors who raise chickens. Nobody I know who raises chickens will accept these weildy plastic cartons for their own eggs - therefore there is no re-use option for these. I find it very hard to believe that a plastic carton with 1/3 as much volume as a paper carton made from recycled materials has less environmental impact -- I will not be buying Pete and Gerrys eggs until they start coming in the recycled paper/pulp cartons that 1) can be reused realistically 2) can go into the backyard compost as well as recycling, and 3) easily recycle.
Thank you for taking the time to reach out to us here and via email, Cassandra. We understand that the usage of plastic in our society has hit an all-time high. It seems to be everywhere. Juice, soda and water companies are some of the biggest culprits in manufacturing this new plastic. As you probably see on a daily basis, much of this plastic gets put right into the landfill after use. It's a real shame and it's something that we think should not be happening. Which is why we're chosen to repurpose, reuse and recycle this plastic that's out there and have it remade into our current egg cartons. Because we're not using new plastic, we're doing our part to keep what is already out there out of the landfills. We realize it's not a perfect long term solution, but we feel it is responsible for the time being.
We also understand that folks that use our cartons may not have the resources to recycle our cartons in their towns, so we have taken it a step further - we pay to have the cartons shipped to us from our consumer, and have it recycled. It's a new pilot program we have started in 2019 and so far has been working well. More details to come soon via this website!
If consumers could bring your containers back to stores (maybe in multiples of 5 or 10 cartons), could the truck that delivers eggs bring those containers back to P&G? The customers who buy your eggs and write on here are the type to do that, I think.
January 04, 2019
We completely agree, Jan - reusable cartons would be a huge game changer for the egg industry. Unfortunately, USDA and FDA regulations ban us from reusing our cartons at this time. Because our eggs are sold at supermarkets and grocery stores all over the country, we have not found a way to suite the needs of every customer (for example, those who would prefer their eggs packaged in a container rather than sold in bulk style), but we really appreciate the suggestions and will certainly add your ideas to our conversations!
Sorry, I should have read further. It seems the FDA/ USDA ought to change its rules on reusing egg cartons. Since eggs come in their own natural packaging (shells that we don't eat), reused cartons present no health hazards.
January 22, 2019
There's definitely potential for change when it comes to those regulations, Allison! Of course, we always want to ensure that we're following the safest practices possible, so we hope that a sustainable and safe system for reusing cartons can be found someday.
January 02, 2019
I like your eggs, your intention to do the 'right thing' with packaging, and the effort you take to explain your process and decision to use recycled plastic.
I live in (Eugene) Oregon. Though in general we are environmentally conscious, the rules and access to recycling vary depending on size of population/ garbage haulers mandates- and contracts available with those entities who want/ can process our 'recyclables'. For many years, Lane County was a leader in recycling options and methods/access. For most of us, it was as easy as putting a mix of most anything that had a recycle symbol on it into a large curb-side container once or twice a month- Glass in a separate curbside container 'Garbage'- anything else that went to landfill also a separate container-typically opposite weeks. Nice and pretty effective. There was no hard and fast laws/rules that the locals had to follow, just make it easy and most people did a pretty good job.
The reason I'm writing is that things have changed, as I'm afraid they will more than we are likely prepared for. China- our largest resource for off loading our 'recyclables' no longer wants our waste. It is no longer economically feasible for them to ship our waste, convert it and resell it to us. In my opinion it was a stupid way for the world to do business in the first place...
Since the United States has not figured out how to make a buck off of recycling- and the 'powers that be' remain in control of markets that produce/buy/ sell/ single use packaging- we are facing a potential environmental of even greater proportions as the proverbial 'hens come to roost'- Sorry- I had too...
Please keep your business minds open to even better 'Best Practices'? Please consider that recycled paper product cartons or something equally likely to actually compose in a reasonable amount of time with minimal environmental impact might be the 'right thing' to do.
I am neither a scientist, business expert or final authority on what is right for the world. I am only one man with an opinion and the desire to what's right.
Again, I applaud your efforts to make the lives of the animals we consume more humane and the choices consumers have in purchasing healthy, reasonably priced food.
We completely understand your concerns, Carl. So much so that we're launching a takeback program for this very reason; to ensure that our cartons get recycled in places that no longer can do so. Though we're still finalizing the program, we might be able to help you out if you have any of our cartons laying around. Do you mind sending us an email at [email protected]? We know it's not a perfect long-term solution in a changing world, but we're doing our best to keep abreast of this unfolding issue. We will surely take your kind and informative discussion to heart. Thank you for the feedback!
This is the exact wording of Nellie’s eggs statements on their website to support their use of plastic. But like so many of the comments on your site saying folks want you to go to compostable paper pulp, I also advocate this change. I live in Key West Fl and we are very vulnerable to plastics killing our reefs and coral. And China is Not recycling our plastics any longer. Please review this more recent article on plastics clogging rivers around the world:
Plastic 'berg chokes Indonesian river
A crisis of plastic waste in Indonesia has become so acute that the army has been called in to help.
Therefore I can no longer in good conscience buy your eggs, but instead will purchase free range organic eggs in paper cartons. Please change your practices for your kids, grandkids, and the magnificent streams, lakes and oceans and all their creatures.
Hi Diane, we thank you for writing. Nellie's is our sister brand of eggs, and we share the same mission, hence the same message. We know it's not a perfect solution in a changing world, but we're doing our best to keep abreast of this unfolding issue. Because our cartons are made from recycled materials rather than new plastic, we do feel that some blame should be placed on these companies that are making the plastic to begin with. If they didn't create it, we would not be able to use it for our cartons. We do have some good news on this forefront. We have introduced a recycling program for consumers who are unable to recycle the cartons in their communities. Please send us a message at [email protected] and we'd be glad to get that information to you and get those cartons back. We are thankful for your message.
November 29, 2018
Please send me your third party study on the comparison between RPET and paper pulp use. I have found many such studies do not take the full life-cycles of plastics into account, that they are not infinitely recyclable, nor first-time recycled plastic's tendency to end up as fleece clothing, TREX deck flooring, or other unlikely and difficult-to-be-recycled items. Nor do studies go into the need to control air pollution and all the energy that involves, along the way. Our recycling used to be sent to China. Now our county is struggling to figure out what to do with it and we have to pay for the "service." I can and do compost paper pulp in my back yard, which becomes nutrition for the planet.
I appreciate your intentions, work and products, but do not want to buy more plastic, regardless of what is wrapped inside.
November 30, 2018
November 27, 2018
Why not reuse the sale package that se could bring back to thé store
November 28, 2018
That's a great suggestion! Unfortunately, food safety regulations prevent us from reusing our cartons, so although we wish we could, it isn't possible at this time.
November 21, 2018
I believe that my recycling service in Portland, Oregon would consider these containers to be clamshells and would tell me to put them in the trash...not the recycling. Which would make recycled pulp a better choice for mine and most recycling areas. Even if they were to go in the recycling stream, we keep hearing recently that most of the plastics end up in landfills in China or elsewhere. What do I do?
November 22, 2018
We completely understand your predicament, Matthew. We're launching a takeback program for this very reason; to ensure that our cartons get recycled. Though we're still finalizing the program, we might be able to help you out if you have any of our cartons laying around. Do you mind sending us an email at [email protected]?
November 16, 2018
Thank you for taking the time to clear the confusion regarding plastic vs cardboard, styrofoam, and PET plastic, and to look for RPET (Recycled PET) instead.
November 17, 2018
Our pleasure, Dolores. As a B Corp, we wanted to base our decision on research. Thank you for taking the time to read about what we found!
November 11, 2018
You have not provided any real evidence or explanation why RPET is better for the environment than molded pulp. The latter uses no chemicals, creates a market for recycled cardboard, and is biodegradable. That seems a lot better and until you convince me otherwise I will avoid buying your eggs
November 12, 2018
Hi Robert, we would be more than happy to send you a copy of our third-party study. Do you mind sending us an email at [email protected]?
November 07, 2018
Thank you! I visited your site to find out why on the plastic cartons as well. As I love and buy your eggs and was a bit stymied by the packaging, now I know. Nice website too.
Nancy Zi, gold beach oregon
November 08, 2018
Hi Nancy! We're so glad we could help to provide some information on our packaging and are delighted to hear that you are enjoying the website. Thanks for supporting our small family farms in Gold Beach, it's a lovely town, I've been there!
You can add our county to your list of areas that will not accept your cartons for recycling. We have been saving them waiting for your mail back program to start but might soon have to look elsewhere for our eggs. Seeing the amount of plastic piling up after a few months brings home the negative aspect of the plastic.
Our preference would be paper pulp.
Hi Mike, we're still finalizing some logistics for the program but might be able to work something out for you this week so that we can take those cartons off your hands. Do you mind sending us an email at [email protected]?
November 05, 2018
This answered my question about the packaging. I'd like to add that I was surprised when I cracked open the first egg. I didn't expect such a fresh egg from the grocery store. I have raised chickens myself, and shop farmers markets. Your eggs are right up there with those.
Hi Susan! We're so delighted to hear that you are enjoying our eggs and that you took the time to reach out to us here. We're thankful to have earned your praise and will let our small family farmers know how much their hard work is appreciated!
October 18, 2018
Thanks for this article! My town has also just switched to recycling by shape and not number (only plastic bottles with the openings smaller than the bottom, odd) and I'm trying to figure out how to adjust my buying habits so I don't have to throw out any plastic. I would be THRILLED with a take-back program. Please keep us updated.
October 19, 2018
We absolutely will, Casie!
October 10, 2018
Portland OR Metro recycles plastic by shape NOT by number now, so it sounds like a NO according to this link.
October 12, 2018
Thank you for letting us know about this, Alyssa. Though it sounds like your local recycling center will no longer take our cartons, all is not lost: we're in the process of a developing a "take back" program that will allow folks like you to save and mail their cartons back to us (free of charge) to be recycled. We'll certainly keep our consumers in the loop as we finalize the logistics, but it sounds like this program might be of use to you. Please let us know if we can answer any questions in the meantime.
October 08, 2018
I’m glad you explained about your cartons. I was very upset when my daughter bought your eggs because of the plastic I suggest you put that information on the very top of your egg cartons. These days people In the San Francisco Bay area are really trying to not buy anything in plastic so having an explanation right in front will help you guys. By the way the eggs are delicious. Most people would probably not go to your website to find out the truth so I’m hoping this will be helpful.
We're really glad that the explanation helped you understand our decision, Rita. Thank you for taking the time to read about our cartons! We appreciate your feedback and will definitely look into including more information right on the paper inserts in the future.
October 02, 2018
It'd be nice if we could have access to the actual report so as to see the assumptions and calculations.
October 05, 2018
many plastics can no longer be recycled here In Eugene, Oregon. Can your container be?
Hey Kevin, our cartons are considered a #1 plastic which is one of the most widely accepted types. If your local recycling facility accepts #1 plastics, then they should indeed accept our cartons. If you'd like us to give them a call, please feel free to drop us a line at [email protected] - we're happy to confirm with them!
We would be happy to send a copy of the study your way, Tad! If you don't mind sending us an email at [email protected], we'll get that right out to you.
October 01, 2018
Not sure about something - you refer to the pulp cartons ending up in anaerobic landfills which I agree is a problem. Can’t you recycle the pulp ones with the mixed paper? If I have an option to buy eggs in cardboard boxes I always prefer it because I can recycle them that way (tearing off any parts that might be sullied by broken eggs, etc).
Absolutely, Karoline! Both pulp cartons and our RPET cartons can and should be recycled. However, in the event that either type of carton ends up in a landfill, neither will decompose over time. Though this is something we wish could be avoided 100% of the time, it does happen, and creates a lose-lose situation for the pulp carton with a higher carbon footprint. We hope this helps clarify!
September 30, 2018
You are probably right, at least for the average person. However, I treasure pulp cartons as we recycle them immediately. During the winter, they are used to kindle the fireplace. In the summer, they start the charcoal in the grill. I buy your product exclusively when I shop in town, but when I do my monthly major trip (to Trader Joe) I stock up on eggs in the pulp cartons. (one concession, I think that your eggs are better!) I also wanted to tell you about my other 2 gripes. I prefer X-large or jumbo eggs. Yours are rare and hard to find. Today our local market had X-L's on sale and I bought 6 dozen. (I use 2-3 dozen/week). Occasionally (once out of 3 dozen, I find eggs with pock mark fractures that look as though they are possibly from processing machinery. I do not use them as as prefer my eggs soft boiled.
We hear you, Gregory! Pulp cartons have many uses, and we completely understand why some folks might prefer them. Lots of our consumers have found that our cartons make really great storage containers for everything from holiday ornaments to office supplies, and they're perfect mini windowsill greenhouses. If there's anything we can do to get our extra large and jumbo eggs into more stores in your area, just give us a shout at [email protected] - we'd love to help!
I am very glad you sent us the email today linking to the article about WHY you use the plastic cartons. It is something that I've wondered about (because it did seem inconsistent with your values). I am glad to know the rationale behind using plastic. I'm pleased that you did commission a comparative environmental impact study for the different types of egg cartons. (I made a point of checking the carton for the recycling # when I first started buying your eggs, & I make a point of recycling them). And of course I selected your eggs in the first place because I feel assured of how the chicks are raised that are the sources of your eggs.
We're so glad that you found your way here, Beth. It sounds like you're a very environmentally-conscious and informed consumer, and we're so grateful for folks like you who encourage others to be the same way. Thank you for taking the time to read about all the research and thought that went into our carton design!
I will only buy your eggs and if the market has none left for the day, I come back later when they are back in stock. They are the best tasting eggs I have had in a long time. My great grandfather raised chickens and back then we never knew what an issue that raising them free range with a good diet would be...it was the norm for him. The yolks are golden, not yellow, and I taste no aftertaste I can tell
the difference I make sure to recycle your packaging, but I feel compelled to let you know that on two occasions I found eggs that were cracked within the package. It did not deter me from buying again as the taste is that remarkable. I love your eggs and gladly have paid more for them. They make an excellent omelette and scrambled they are light and fluffy.
Thank you so much for the kind words, Jennifer. It truly means the world to us that you go to such great lengths to purchase our eggs at your local market. We're so sorry that you found a few cracked eggs, as we designed our cartons with this very issue in mind. If you don't mind sending us an email at [email protected] we would love to send you a few coupons to replace that carton!
September 29, 2018
I love your eggs, but was concerned about the plastic cartons. I am very happy to see that you have spent so much time and effort to address packaging. We are in a crisis with plastic recycling, as many of your commenters have noted, and of course it is the current hot topic in the news. Until we as a society can move beyond our addiction to plastic we must do our best to minimize its use.
Can you re-use the plastic cartons? I would be very happy to send you a box of my used ones every few months or so if you will re-use them vs. recycle them. I do not trust that #1 clamshells will actually be recycled anywhere in the near future.
Hi Kim! Thanks for your thoughtful comment. For sanitation reasons, we unfortunately cannot reuse our cartons, but they can definitely be recycled and made into new products. We know that it's on all of us as individuals to recycle, and we believe it's our responsibility to continue educating consumers and encouraging everyone to take that extra step when it comes to our packaging (and all recyclable materials).
September 22, 2018
Your eggs are the best I've been able to buy since I raised my own years ago. We can no longer recycle any plastic, however, that is not #1 or #2. Your containers now go in the land fill. Please consider using pulp-paper. Whoops! Found the #1 finally. Sorry. Still like the thought of the paper pulp containers. Wonderful eggs!
September 24, 2018
Hi Elizabeth! It sounds like because they're a #1 plastic, your local recycling facility will indeed accept them (apologies if the #1 symbol was a bit difficult to find!). We appreciate the love and great feedback!
September 19, 2018
I am more concerned with chemicals and microbeads ending up in the ocean & water sources, than the carbon footprint. Seems like we can find a better carton option.
Hi Beth! We understand where you're coming from, but we do think that considering our carbon footprint is very important when looking at overall environmental impact of our cartons. We're committed to limiting carbon dioxide emissions because of the serious threats that climate change poses. It is also critical to keep chemicals and microbeads out of our oceans as well as our water sources, so we hope to continue to encourage all consumers to properly dispose of our cartons by recycling them. We're committed to innovative package design and will continue to research how to make the best packaging for our eggs.
I appreciate the information, but the assumption is that your packaging will be recycled once it gets to a facility. The numbers don’t bear this out. A minimal amount of the plastic put in to home recycling ever actually gets recycled. I would still by your eggs more often if they were in pulp packaging.
Hi Liz, thank you for taking the time to comment. Yes, we use 100% post-consumer recycled plastic to create our cartons, which puts the plastic surplus to good use. When they arrive at the facility, these number one plastics can be recycled with little trouble. Unfortunately, pulp packaging will not biodegrade in a landfill either and most consumers do not have the ability to properly dispose of those types of packages so that they will actually biodegrade. Our hope is that consumers will recycle their cartons and they will be properly dealt with at the facility.
September 04, 2018
Where can I recycle these? My local place won’t accept them. I don’t feel good chucking these into landfills. So, I’m not going to purchase any more of your eggs until I hear from you that there’s a place I can recycle the cartons.
Hi Michele, we're so sorry to hear that your local recycling facility will not accept #1 plastics. We're in the process of a "take back" program that will allow folks like you to mail their cartons back to us (free of charge) to be recycled. We'll certainly keep our consumers in the loop as we finalize the logistics, but it sounds like this program might be of use to you. We've also found that there can be some confusion out there regarding the type of plastic that our cartons are made from, and some recycling facilities that do accept #1 plastics simply don't realize that ours are in that category. If it helps, we would be more than happy to give your local recycling facility a call to see if this is the case. Feel free to send us an email at [email protected] if this sounds like it might be helpful.
I think mailing my cartons to you is not sustainable. GHG emissions for trucking a few egg cartons? My recycling facility will no longer accept "clamshell" plastics even if they are #1. You need to change your packaging ASAP. Your assumptions based on the study you site may have been true when China was still accepting this plastic but they don't now! Paper cartons please! Until you change I will have to buy another brand.
Hi Janelle, we hear you on this issue. We do think that the take-back program could be successful if many customers are saving the cartons and mailing them in occasionally. We believe that reducing our carbon footprint is the most important thing we can do to protect our environment. Most recycling facilities do accept our #1 plastics and we're sorry to hear that yours presently does not. Unfortunately, "biodegradable" cartons made of molded paper do not decompose any more effectively in a landfill than our plastic cartons. Thank you for your honest feedback and we'll continue to pay attention to all relevant research and design information to improve our cartons.
September 02, 2018
Thanks... I almost stopped buying your eggs until I read the info on your packaging and went to your website to learn more. I like that you are reviewing new information as well.
Thank you for your understanding and support, Nancy. We firmly believe in educating ourselves on this ever-changing issue whenever possible!
August 28, 2018
I’m not convinced that RPET is better. Of course if the plastic can be recycled forever, it would be a good thing. But, my understanding is that bad assumptions in LCA studies (life cycle assessment) can lead to misleading results. For example, did the study assume a 100% recycling rate? What if the actual rate were less? What if some percentage of the plastic waste winds up in landfills, but some in the ocean or tossed on the side of the road, etc.
That's a really important point, Steve. We'd love to send you a copy of the study so that you can look further into any assumptions made and let us know how we could incorporate more possible outcomes into our thinking. We do want to point out that even though molded paper cartons are typically biodegradable, it's a common misconception that they'll biodegrade in an anaerobic landfill environment. So although we would never want to see our cartons end up in a landfill, if they do, they are unfortunately no worse off than paper cartons in that same landfill. We hope this information has helped clarify our decision, and please let us know if you'd like us to send that study your way!
August 15, 2018
Amazing! Just this morning while cooking breakfast I wondered "Why plastic, Pete and Gerry?" And 3 minutes later I had my answer! Thank you for staying connected with consumers and for caring about our environment. Great eggs, great packaging, never a broken egg 👌
August 17, 2018
This is awesome, Maria. We're glad that you found the information to be helpful and easy to find, and thanks for the great feedback on our eggs and cartons alike!
We can't recycle any plastic except #2 now, at least here in Maine. Our transfer station says it has to do with China refusing the plastics they used to buy from us.
I agree with the superiority of the see-through plastic for supermarket eggs, but what effect does it have on your analysis of environmental impact now that the plastic cartons are going into the waste stream?
Thanks for your comment, Carolyn. While there have certainly been some major recent changes when it comes to materials that can be exported to China, #1 plastics are still being recycled all over the country (and the world!), and we are working to ensure that our cartons are not ending up in the waste stream. We're in the very beginnings of starting a partnership with a "take back" program that will allow consumers to mail in their cartons free of charge so that they can be recycled. This will allow consumers all over the country - even those without access to a recycling center - to ensure that the cartons they purchase are being recycled and even upcycled in a closed-loop system. We'll have much more information in the coming months, but for now, we'd love to share some ideas for upcycling our cartons that our consumers have shared with us. At home, our cartons make great paint palettes, ornament storage, or even compartments for storing nails/screws, office supplies, or jewelry. Preschool programs and elementary schools sometimes use them for arts and crafts projects and storage. If you have a local farmer's market, egg farmers will sometimes repurpose our cartons (with the paper inserts removed, of course) to sell their own eggs. And finally, although they aren't biodegradable and shouldn't be planted directly into the ground, our cartons make fantastic mini windowsill greenhouses for seed starting. These are by no means long-term solutions, but we hope they'll help.
August 14, 2018
Well the containers suck and I have stopped buying your eggs because they always always always break in those stupid containers!
We're so sorry that you're not a big fan of our cartons, Abilene. We've found that they tend to protect the eggs better than molded paper pulp or Polystyrene, but we also know that cracked or broken eggs can happen now and then. We'd be more than happy to replace any cartons that you've been dissatisfied with if you don't mind sending us an email at [email protected]
July 30, 2018
Why did you decide not to use recycled molded pulp, if that had the lowest impact? I've been so glad to have access to free range organic eggs in my local supermarket, thanks to you guys, and I appreciate your explanations but am not clear on this part.
July 31, 2018
That's a great question, Margit! Ultimately, we decided that reusing the plastic that's already in circulation rather than letting it end up in landfills was the most responsible thing to do. It also came down to carton design and ease of use - we love that folks are able to flip the carton over (without worrying about the eggs jostling around, thanks to the tri-fold design) to check for cracked eggs before buying. Plus, the design and material tends to protect the eggs a bit better than others. We also love being able to showcase our farm families right on the carton, which we wouldn't be able to do as easily with paper pulp. We put a lot of thought and research into the choice, and we've been pleased with the outcome and positive feedback from consumers, but we're always open to change and improvement! We hope this explanation helps, and please don't hesitate to reach out any time with questions. Thank you for the support!
July 26, 2018
I recently bought a carton of eggs which says good until july 28th. How long will they last past that date?
July 27, 2018
Hi LeAnne, thanks for the question. The date on our cartons is typically a "use by" date, so we can't recommend that you consume our eggs beyond that date, as we can't guarantee their freshness. However, there's a clever trick that will give you a pretty good idea of how fresh expired eggs really are. If you fill a bowl with water and gently place the eggs in the water, you should be able to see if the eggs float or sink. If they float, you're better off tossing them; that's the sign of an older egg. If they sink, that's a pretty good indication that they're still fresh. We hope this helps!
January 17, 2018
May 29, 2013