Milk and juice cartons aren’t just an old tradition. They’re a cost efficient and easily recyclable option!

Shelf Stable

Shelf Stable cartons can be kept on a shelf in the store until you buy and open them. You’ll find juice, certain kinds of milk, soup, even wine in shelf stable cartons. These kinds of containers are, on average, 74% paper, 22% polyethylene and 4% aluminum.

Refrigerated cartons

Refrigerated cartons on the other hand, need to be kept in the refrigerated section at the store and at your home. They’re made from 80% paper and 20% polyethylene.


Since both kinds of cartons – shelf stable and refrigerated –  are primarily paper, they’re easier to recycle than plastic. There are so many kinds of plastic, it’s more difficult for recycling centers to deal with them, and it costs more.

Since paper cartons are lightweight, and efficient in the space they use, it can be considered even better for the environment since the same amount of product can be shipped in fewer trucks. That means less fuel and less greenhouse gas emissions.

Recycling Cartons

Check to see if cartons are accepted in your local curbside recycling program by visiting or our Earth911 Recycling Search. If they don’t offer one, you may have a cardboard recycling facility near you. You can find out more information about your options at and

What #SmallSteps are YOU taking at home? Leave a comment below!

For great ideas on recycling check out the following articles and guides:

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By Luria Petrucci

Luria hosts both Earth911TV and GeeksLife. You can find her at the intersections of fun, green living, technology and the geeky lifestyle. She enjoys learning alongside you on how to make life better, easier, greener and more efficient!