How to Recycle a Milk Carton

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Are you sick of throwing milk cartons away? They're big, bulky and take up a lot of room at the dumpster and most landfills. If you want to learn how to recycle a milk carton, whether it's paper or plastic, follow these instructions.

Things You'll Need

  • Milk plastic carton
  • Milk paper carton
  • Running water
  • Reuse before you recycle. The three steps of waste prevention are 1. reduce 2. reuse and 3. recycle. You can cut a 3 to 4 inch hole in the top of the plastic milk carton and use it as a wide-mouthed container to hold markers, crayons, legos, toy cars or seasoning packets. Make sure that the handle stays intact, for stability. These cartons line up nicely in a cabinet or on a shelf. Children can decorate them with markers or stickers.

  • Slice the tops off of paper milk cartons and stack them on their side, to hold yarn, children's toys, or cosmetics. They make nice little cubby holes and can be custom-cut to the height you need. Upright, they can be re-used the same way the a plastic milk carton can be reused.

  • Rinse out the empty plastic or paper milk carton thoroughly when you're ready to recycle. It's not necessary to use chemicals or soaps, just a little water.

  • Dump all of the water out of the milk carton and place it upside down to dry. When the carton is dry, you can continue.

  • Smash the carton down so that it takes up less space. The easiest way to do this is to remove the lid, place it on a kitchen chair and sit on it. If you don't remove the plastic lid, the air pressure inside the carton will prevent you from crushing it. You can also crush the carton by stepping on it.

  • Place your cartons in a recycling bin or wastebasket until you are ready to recycle. Do not replace the plastic lids, as they are a different grade of plastic and need to be turned in separately from the carton itself.

  • Locate your nearest recycling facility. Begin by checking your yellow pages for a Recycling Center in your area. Find a free facility locator by visiting the Earth911 and RecyclingCenters website. You can find a recycling center by clicking on your state or entering your postal zip code.

  • Deliver the milk plastic and paper cartons to a recycling facility.

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  • Photo Credit Gracey at Morguefile.com
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