Food and Beverage Cartons: The Inside Scoop

Food and beverage cartons are the latest addition to the “recycling world” and the sixth category of the six items that are accepted in our Blue Bins. This blog post will discuss the types of food and beverage cartons we can recycle, what they are recycled into, which cartons we cannot recycle and why.

We are able to recycle food and beverage cartons because of the Carton Council, which was established in 2008 with the mission to “come together with a commitment to increase access to and awareness of carton recycling in North America.”

According to the Carton Council, by 2019, “Nearly 61% (71 million) of households in the U.S. now have access to carton recycling across 49 states.”

What Food & Beverage Cartons Can We Recycle?

A good rule of thumb when asking if your carton is recyclable is to remember where it came from inside the grocery store.

“Did my carton come from the refrigerated section?” Recycle it in your Blue Bin!

Juices, milks, wines, water and even egg white cartons can be recycled!

Since 2008, the Carton Council has worked diligently to partner with many recycling companies, local governments and Material Recovery Facilities (MRF) around the nation. In some places, their investments have allowed the MRFs to install the technology required to sort and bale the food and beverage cartons that are collected.

“Did my carton come from the shelf aisle?” Recycle it in your Blue Bin!

Soups, juices, and broth cartons can be recycled, too!

What are Food and Beverage Cartons Recycled Into?

Food and beverage cartons are recycled into several different items and materials. The most common is toilet paper, facial tissue and paper towels. Cartons also have the ability to be recycled into eco-friendly building materials!

What Food and Beverage Cartons Can’t be Recycled?

“Did my carton come from the freezer section?” ✋ Wait! 🚫

Ice cream cartons are the most common carton in the freezer section and are not accepted for recycling in the Blue Bins.


Ice cream cartons are manufactured with additional materials that are meant to withstand temperatures in the freezer, while also preventing freezer burn. This, in turn, makes them not recyclable so they must be placed in the trash.

As with all recycling bottles, jars and containers, cartons must be emptied and rinsed before recycling in the Blue Bin. Do not flatten your cartons, remember to replace the cap before recycling and never, ever bag your recycling.


  • Mary says:

    Please stress to keep plastic bags out of the yard waste dumpsters. Also no diapers of any kind go into any of the recycle bins. And what about a shout out to just keeping the alleys and streets clean of litter in general.

  • Kevin R says:

    My neighbors are slowly coming around to using the blue dumpster correctly. I have asked the city several times to place a sticker on the blue alley dumpster that looks exactly like the image at the top of Samantha’s 3/4/2021 post. I find myself taking garbage out of the blue dumpster and putting in the brown dumpster. My conscience just makes me do it.

    • Samantha Villaire says:

      Hi Kevin, thanks for your comment! We have good new to report; we have dumpster stickers that are now available for residents to pick up contactlessly at our office! 😁 We have recycling and trash dumpster stickers available to city residents. You can fill out this form to request either/both for your alley. We appreciate you being a recycling ROCKSTAR and going the extra step! 🤩

  • Pam Ross says:

    I try to stop people from adding plastic bags and styrofoam packing in the blue bin. I pull the bags and styrofoam out (when possible) and put it in the trash dumpster.

    • Samantha Villaire says:

      Thanks for being a rockstar recycler, Pam and cleaning out the contamination! If you want to help educate your neighbors at the dumpster, we have recycling and trash dumpster stickers available if you’d like some! You can email us at or call 314-772-4646 for more information.

  • Kate S says:

    My neighbors bag all of their recycling in plastic garbage bags…grrr! We have to get the message out about NO plastic bags in the blue bins.

    • Samantha Villaire says:

      I’m sorry you have this issue with your neighbors! We now have recycling and trash dumpster stickers available to help our neighbors Recycle Responsibly! You can email us at to request some. 🤠

  • Greg Gerhart says:

    Can paper or cardboard egg carton be recycled in the blue bins?

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