Social Good

Carton Take Back Program

By Nellie's Kindness Crew

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At Nellie's Free Range Eggs, we have always led with kindness and compassion. Our hens aren't the only part of that equation: the Earth needs to be cared for, too. In 2013, Nellie's became a Certified B Corporation, but since long before that, we have been making decisions that take into account the health of our planet and environment, starting with our recycled (and recyclable!) packaging.

Our Earth-friendly egg cartons

In 2012, we made the decision to put some critical thought and research into our carton design. We commissioned a study that found our cartons to be more Earth-friendly than other types, including molded paper pulp and Polystyrene.

Our cartons are made from 100% post-consumer recycled plastic. In many parts of the country, there’s a surplus of recycled soda bottle plastic, and each carton puts that surplus to good use. When recycled again, our cartons are significantly less harmful to the environment than recycling pulp packaging, consuming far less energy and water, with no waste or added chemicals.

Why take back egg cartons?

Choosing to recycle is a thoughtful decision that we all try to make daily, and we've made that decision easy: our cartons are made from the world's most widely recycled plastics (#1), so they are readily accepted by most recycling programs. This means that when you send your Nellie's Free Range Egg cartons to a municipal recycler, they're given a chance to be made into new packaging. If you live in a state or county that doesn't recycle #1 plastics, our Take Back program is a great choice.

How to join our Take Back program

Simply store your empty cartons until you've collected at least ten. The more you collect, the better! Transportation has a carbon footprint too, and shipping back larger batches at a time helps keep that footprint low. Once you have a hefty carton collection, "nest" them in a recycled box, then send an email with your name, mailing address, and the number of cartons you'll be mailing back to [email protected]. We'll send you a prepaid label to attach to your box. Drop your box off at the local post office and go about your day knowing that even a small action can make a big positive impact on our planet.


Betsy DakeSeptember 05, 2020

Can’t thank you enough for your eggs! I got spoiled for amazing eggs when I visited my sister, who always has fresh free range eggs from her 6 hens. Since my town doesn’t allow backyard hens, I thought I was doomed to grocery store eggs or the local “cage free” eggs that seek for crazy prices until I found Nellie’s. Now I can have the fantastic fresh taste, the vibrant yellow yolks and whites that don’t run everywhere without having to pay $7 a dozen to a local farmer, plus I can recycle the boxes! And if my town ever stops curbside recycling, your carton Take Back Program ensures that I can continue to buy your delicious eggs without worrying about plastic waste. And lastly, thank you for raising your hens free- range so they can run in fresh air and sunshine, grazing on all of the things chickens love to eat! Not just vegetarian feed, but bugs and worms and all the things chickens so love - that make free range eggs so wonderful! Until my town comes to its senses and passes a backyard chicken ordinance, you can count on me as a loyal customer!


Thank you for this incredibly kind and thoughtful note, Betsy. We can't thank you enough for being a conscious consumer and are honored to be your egg of choice and are rooting for you to be able to raise your own healthy hens someday, too.

Alan AdcoxJuly 10, 2020

I can not thank you enough for having a mail back program for your plastic egg cartons. I typically buy my cage free eggs in a paper carton to avoid the plastic since I am unable to recycle it. I bought Nellie's because no paper carton egg supplier were available. I will be buying Nellie's in the future now knowing I will not be adding to the plastic problem our planet has. Thank you very much. Alan


Hi Alan, We hope our Take-Back program is an inspiration for many local, US, and international companies. If this becomes a new normal we can drastically reduce our carbon footprint and plastic wastestream. Thank you for choosing the purple egg carton and happy hens!

Nancy BaumgartnerFebruary 25, 2020

I just "discovered" Nellie's Free Range Eggs at my local Walmart Store. What a blessing. I have been buying Organics as much as possible but I love the fact your hens are also friends. And, your take back program for the cartons are amazing. Believe me Nellie's eggs will be a regular item on my grocery list. Thank you so much. And give your hens a hug for me.


We're so glad you found us, Nancy! We do love our hens and work hard to make sure they stay happy and healthy. It's great to hear we've been added to your grocery list. Thanks for choosing our eggs!

Mary Ellen AlicandriFebruary 11, 2020

I love it that I could read all this on your website. I bought your eggs for the first time yesterday. One mystery.. I could not find the recycling number on the carton. Thank you


Hi Mary Ellen! We're so glad you found our eggs and were able to read about our Take Back Program. The recycling number for our cartons is located in the well between the egg cups, but they're all number 1 recyclable plastic. We hope this helps!

Sarah GreeneJanuary 24, 2020

Great idea! Where do the carton go after they reach you? Our recycling center takes them but they think the #1 goes to Canada now (not China or Malaysia anymore). Then what happens to it??? I will send the cartons to you if you have they have an identified destination/ repurpose. Thank you for addressing this what seems to be a vast conversation!!


Hi Sarah! That's a great question and we understand the concern. We've set aside some barn storage space here at our home farm for these cartons, and once we have enough, they'll be taken directly up to our carton manufacturer's facilities to be melted and molded into new cartons and other packaging. We welcome you to send us an email if you have any more questions or would like to participate in the program!

Eileen SousaJanuary 19, 2020

I try to educate customers at the Giant Eagle Store and your website helps everyone become a better consumer!


Hello Eileen! We're so happy to hear that our website is helpful! Thanks for working so hard to let consumers know about what we do!

CarolJanuary 09, 2020

Thank you for this website. It's been very helpful and in addition fun and educational. I will remember to save the cartons to return to you, with hopes that the local garbage pick up will direct them to the correct place for recycling as well.


Hi Carol, we're so happy we can help! We'd be happy to recycle your cartons for you if your local facility won't take them. Please feel free to send us an email if you have any further questions about getting set up with our Take Back program!

BrianDecember 28, 2019

Can you mark the carton with a plastic type 1 stamp ? Or with a mark that is visible ? Or will my recycler know it is # 1 plastic ? Thanks !


Hello Brian. Thanks for reaching out. Typically the cartons do have a #1 recycle symbol that is found on top of one of the egg cups. It may be a little tricky to see because of the clear plastic. We'll be glad to suggest a different location to our carton manufacturer. Thanks for the suggestion!

Leonie LacouetteDecember 23, 2019

Wow. This is great news. Love Nellie's and the take back program is the icing on the cake. I will spread the news because they no longer recycle #1 locally. Thanks for being so helpful!


You're so very welcome, Leonie, and we would love if you could let your fellow Nellie fans know about our Takeback program - the more cartons we can get back, the better!

Karen JaquithDecember 20, 2019

I'm so glad that you have this program. I will collect my Nellies cartons and when I have enough I'll send them on to you.


Hello Karen. That sounds great! We look forward to getting those cartons back!

Cherese Wiesner-RosalesDecember 20, 2019

WOW! You people are wonderful! I love your eggs and can tell by the yolks they are of superior quality. I was just worried about the carbon footprint of your plastic carton and you have it figured out!


Hi Cherese. We're so glad that we could help provide some useful information. We look forward to taking some of your cartons back in the future!

cookie slusarczykDecember 18, 2019

I want to join your take back program. I'm sure my farmers market farmers will be a little upset but I will tell them why I'm giving them back to Nellies.


Hi Cookie! We'd love to get a label made for you to send the cartons back to us. When you're ready, feel free to reach out to us at: [email protected] Thanks!

Ken MoranDecember 16, 2019

I really do like the eggs and the free range concept, I was concerned about the plastic carton until I decided to write a comment. I have always been concerned about recycling and I recycle as much as I can with both the town program and composting.(When I was in high school, circa 1967 I did a science report on the feasibility of converting garbage into energy).Then I saw the take back program and now I feel Nellies is a model for the future.


Thank you for reaching out, Ken. We're so glad that we could help give you some food for thought. We commend you for being at the forefront of innovative solutions for our planet. It's up to all of us to do the right thing. We hope we're helping to inspire others to do so as well.

Karen DluhosDecember 14, 2019

I love the idea and opportunity to do this!!! The plastic packaging was a deterrent to my purchase. I want to confirm this is still an available process.


Hi Karen! Thanks for reaching out. We are absolutely still offering our take back program. Feel free to drop us a line and we can get you more specific information on how to get these cartons back. [email protected]!

Jain, Katherine CNovember 20, 2019

I wish some of this info was on the container that I did not buy because of the plastic. good job


Hi Katherine! Thanks for the suggestion. We wish we were able to put more information on the carton as well. Due to some required information and space constraints, we unfortunately can't put everything we wish we could include on our packaging. Thank you for taking the time to read through our website!

Jessica WeselohNovember 19, 2019

We LOVE Nellies... we raise our own chickens and other farm animals.. And when we aren't getting fresh eggs we are buying ONLY nellies!!! Thanks for your Quality products and for loving the animals it came from!


Hello Jessica, your message warms our hearts. We're so glad to hear that you are raising and enjoying your own flock. Thanks for choosing our eggs when you buy them!

Gretchen LeenaartsNovember 10, 2019

For a while, after trying Nellie's the first time, I'd switch around and try another "organic" egg. I decided to stop the nonsense. Nellie's are the best tasting, unless you have your own chickens. I'm not switching again


Your loyalty means the world to us, Gretchen. We're thrilled that Nellie's will now be your egg of choice. Thank you so much for supporting our free range farms and happy hens!

Sandy ForesterOctober 23, 2019

I have older chickens, so no egg laying anymore. But they're my babies. I've tried EB, not impressed, and then saw yours. Tried them and absolutely LOVE them. They are as close to what my chickens used to lay. The yoke is vibrant. You know they are good eggs and they taste wonderful. EB's Yokes are faded. Thank you for a GREAT product. I will start saving your cartons.


This is music to our ears, Sandy! We're so glad that our eggs remind you of the ones your girls used to lay - that's a huge compliment. Thanks for your care and concern for our planet!

Karen PetersOctober 18, 2019

I love 'Nellie's' eggs! I recycle the empty cartons locally. Karen


We're so glad to hear that you're able to recycle the cartons, Karen. Thanks for supporting our small family farms!

Debbie GanoungOctober 18, 2019

We LOVE your eggs. I currently have a recycling program that accepts #1 plastic, but I'm happy to know that if that ever changes I can utilize this program. Thank you for thinking about our planet, Debbie Ganoung


That's wonderful, Debbie! We're so glad to hear that you're able to recycle the cartons locally. We're here if you need us!

PennyOctober 13, 2019

I have been looking for a true free range egg option. That u use recycled plastic in your cartons is wonderful. You have my business


We're so thankful for your support and kind words, Penny! Thanks!

Diane HeitmannOctober 13, 2019

this is great! Our recycling just STOPPED taking this kind of plastic and its just so hard throwing them out. I will save them up!


That's great, we look forward to getting the cartons, Diane!

Gayle HooverOctober 13, 2019

This is great! We can recycle #1 plastic in our area, presumably, at least it's accepted by the collectors. However, I always wonder about the label inside. Can it be recycled with the carton, or does it go into "film" plastic recycling, like plastic bags and wrappers?


HI Gayle! Great question. Typically we recommend removing the paper from the carton and recycling separately. We generally find that the paper (made with some recycled paper to begin with) will work in the mixed paper recycling bins. Thanks!

Caren Jill FeinbergOctober 12, 2019

This is awesome! Thank you!


We're so glad to help, Caren! Thanks for your support!

LenaOctober 12, 2019

What a wonderful idea. I only wished I knew this before, cause I buy only Nellies eggs. I will definitely start to save them to send back. Thanks.


That sounds wonderful, Lena! We look forward to taking the cartons back and recycling them again!

Rachel SetolaOctober 12, 2019

I love your clear egg cartons! I'm using them to store Christmas ornaments in - keeps everything neat and tidy and visible!


Great idea, Rachel! Thanks so much for sharing!

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