Packaging costs more than you might think. We’re paying about $0.30 per egg carton these days, and we buy ’em 1,000 at a time!
The economy has not been kind to our egg-carton supply. Pactiv closed the Northern California plant that made our egg cartons, so our egg cartons are coming up from Mexico, adding a lot of shipping/energy cost into the mix.
Fortunately for us, we live in God’s Country, Western Oregon, where lots of people are eager recyclers and the state regulations aren’t all written by compulsive hand-washers. Not yet, anyway. It’s perfectly legal to use clean, used egg cartons in Oregon, so we do. And not just ours — anybody’s. We’ll stick our labels on top of whatever was there before, and that makes ’em ours.
So we’re in a pretty good position where cartons are concerned. Our customers bring us huge stacks of cartons and give them to us free, gratis, and for nothing, glad to see they aren’t wasted. We use ’em until they get dirty or start falling apart.
This isn’t legal everywhere. I swear that, in some states, the food-safety rules were written by Howard Hughes. I can find no mention of used-egg-carton-borne illness having ever happened anywhere, even once, but that doesn’t prevent some states from banning it. Oddly, some of the midwestern states seem to be particularly anti-farmer. That’s just plain weird.
Anyway, if you go the used-carton route for your own flock, here are a few tips for you:
- If you sell any eggs in grocery stores, use new cartons for these. The same people who will happily accept a used carton when you’re selling face-to-face won’t touch anything that’s the least bit shopworn in a retail store. Strange but true.
- Always put a rubber band around the egg carton, especially if it’s used. Used cartons are floppier than new ones and may not stay closed on the trip home. For marginal cartons, use two rubber bands.
- When cartons get too dirty or wrecked, into the wood stove with them! Fires are a lot easier to start if you use heavy stuff like cardboard or egg cartons in addition to paper and kindling. Get one last use out of them this way. (Two, if you have a good use for the ashes, which we do.)
- Egg cartons are all the same except for Jumbos, which are bigger. So you can mix or match all your cartons except the Jumbos.