Are Ice Cream Cartons Recyclable? Here Is Our Guide

Ice cream is one of the most loved snacks among all of us. Each person is estimated to consume 23 pounds of ice cream annually.

Unfortunately, most ice cream cartons are not recyclable.

While ice cream cartons can be made of various materials you think can be recycled, it is usually not the case.

While, in most cases, you cannot throw your ice cream carton in the recycling bin, there are some ways you can try to reuse the carton to reduce your waste.

It is a much more eco-friendly approach!

Let’s look at our guide for recycling and reusing ice cream cartons.

Why AAren’tIce Cream Cartons Recyclable?


Most ice cream cartons are made with plastic lining situated within the cardboard. This lining is essential to maintain your ice ccream’sintegrity while in the freezer. It also keeps water out of your ice cream.

A special coating on your ice cream carton allows it to stay intact when it’s freezing. Because of this coating and the combination of paper and plastic, the carton cannot be recycled.

Water is used to break down recyclable materials, and your ice cream carton is essentially built to withstand that process. Recyclable paper is turned into pulp using water for it to be reused.

Check Your Municipality’s Website

Some municipalities have different rules regarding what can and cannot be recycled. Your city will likely have a list of acceptable materials to throw in your recycling bin.

Check there before placing anything in your recycling bin so your recycling doesn’t get refused at pick up.

There is a process that very few recycling centers have where they can separate the materials within an ice cream carton to recycle them properly. While it is rare, your city may have that capability.

What Should I Do If My City Lets Me Recycle Ice Cream Cartons?

If you can recycle ice cream cartons where you live, you want to clean them thoroughly. Be sure there are no cream or food bits left in the container.

Any remaining ice cream can fall onto your other recyclables if you don’t do this. If food is left in your recyclable materials, it automatically makes them unrecyclable, and they will all be thrown into the garbage.

How Should I Dispose Of My Ice Cream Cartons?

Most of your ice cream cartons will have to go into the garbage and then into a landfill. If you can remove the plastic coating on the outside of your carton, you may be able to shred the paper and compost it.

It would also be beneficial to rinse your ice cream carton before disposing of it, especially if you attempt to compost it.

Having said that, you should try to reuse your ice cream carton.

What About Plastic Ice Cream Cartons?

There is a good chance that you can recycle your plastic ice cream cartons. There could be an answer on the label, so check that.

You also want to ensure you clean the carton thoroughly before recycling it.

Can I Try To Reuse My Ice Cream Carton?


Most of us are trying to be more conscious consumers, looking for ways to reduce waste. Since you cannot recycle most ice cream cartons, you can attempt to reuse them for other things.

First, you want to clean it very well and allow it to dry thoroughly.

Some people choose to use the box for storage purposes. You can even paint it or decorate it. They can be great for discreetly collecting items that you want to have close by but don’t want them cluttering your shelves or cupboards.

Use it for a craft if you have kids. They can go crazy decorating the carton, painting it, or adding stickers. They can then use it to collect small toys or keepsakes.

Because your ice cream carton is built to freeze, you can also clean it and reuse it to store other foods in the freezer. The material is evidently food safe, and you can save some money.

More Inspiration For Reusing Your Ice Cream Container

Ice cream cartons can also be handy to use as cleaning buckets. They can withstand water and chemicals with ease since they are so water-resistant.

They can then easily be cleaned and used for your next chore day.

Pinterest always has many creative ideas for reusing just about anything.

While it’s unfortunate that your ice cream carton can contribute to waste, it’s reassuring to know that it can at least be reused.

Rest assured that your ice cream carton can’t be recycled because it’s made to keep your favorite sweet cool so you can enjoy it in its best form.