Social Good

Carton Take Back Program

By Nellie's Kindness Crew


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 submit a request for your prepaid label. Once you receive your label via email, attach it to your box, drop it off at your local post office, and go about your day knowing that even a small action can make a big positive impact on our planet.


Michelle YoungSeptember 20, 2023

I Think That’s Great, I Do Collect At Least Ten Cartons in a Month, I Love Eggs And Make So Much Stuff But Really, I Love A Fried Or Scrambled Eggs Oooh Weeeh.


Hi Michelle, we're happy to read this! Be sure to let us know if you'd like to participate in our Take Back Program!

TeriJanuary 28, 2023

Thank you for your care and leadership in the good life and death care of meat and egg animals. I'm ok with eating farmed meat as long as the animals get a good life and stress less and pain free death.


Hi Teri, we greatly appreciate these kind words! Thanks for supporting our farmers and hens.

Beth Ann SchwarzJanuary 24, 2023

Do you take back cartons other than Nellie’s? I have many molded cardboard and some plastic 18 and 12 egg cartons.


Hi Beth Ann, thank you for giving us the opportunity to answer this question! At this time, we are only able to take back our Nellie's cartons or cartons from our sister brand, Pete & Gerry's. If you aren't able to recycle your plastic egg cartons from other brands in your area, we encourage you to reach out to these companies to ask if they have a similar program.

ANNMARIE NagelinAugust 28, 2022

I'm so glad you have a take back program. In order to reuse, I have found that the egg cartons make fantastic greenhouses for starting seeds in the spring.


Hello Annmarie! We're so glad you've found a great use for those cartons, they do make great mini greenhouses. Thank you for recycling the others!

Sydney AlexanderAugust 17, 2022

I have about fifty cartons


Hi Sydney! You can find details on how to send us these cartons by clicking "submit a request for your prepaid label"! Thank you for setting those aside for us. We look forward to receiving your box at our office!

Gin CamAugust 15, 2022

Thank you!!!!


Thank you, Gin!

Faye M. LintonAugust 13, 2022

Thank you for your attention to detail with a heart to do the right thing. Free range allows a healthier chicken to not just eat grass but all the little buggies in the grass. And, scratching the grass always brings up more buggies and healthier grass. My question, which I've not seen here yet, is what do you do with retired hens? It is first a farm animal and deserves good treatment as God intended but eventually must go into someone's pot. While my grandfather could walk among his Hereford cows and seasonally leased bulls with ease on foot or horseback, still----a young heifer ended up in our freezer at some point. That is the reality of life. So how do you market your retired hens? And at what age? Are the harvested hens available as meat?


Hello Faye, thank you for sharing your story about your family farm. You've asked a great question. We believe in honesty and transparency here at Nellie's, so you will find our process for our hens at the end of their lives as well as some other important questions and answers here on our website: Thank you for reaching out to us.

MalgosiaFebruary 27, 2022

Thank so much for your eggs and all I learned here on your website. The plastic packaging bothered me, but no more. Thanks for Take Back program, I'm definitely going to use it. Your eggs are wonderful and all I found about your company gives hope. Maybe you may want to add a note on the packaging about Take Back program, just a thought. Thank you for all your efforts and delicious products.


Thank you for reaching out Malgosia! We're so glad that the information here was helpful. We'll make sure to pass the feedback along!

susan medeirosJanuary 24, 2022

Hi. Do you reuse the cartons or recycle them? If you recycle them is it the same as me taking them to a recycling center? Susan


Hi Susan, the cartons themselves don't get reused, but they get taken back to our packaging manufacture and the plastic itself gets reused in other ways. Thank you for this thoughtful question!

Julie Kate ParhamJanuary 16, 2022

My husband and I have saved over 60 egg cartons and we would love to donate them!


Hi Julie! I believe we have received your email, so please check for a response from us! Thanks!

Deb CJanuary 05, 2022

Before we send in the plastic egg cartons, should we pull the paper insert out and recycle that with our town's paper recycling? Or do we need to leave that in so you can see the containers are from Nellie's or Pete & Gerry's?


Hi Deb, thank you for this eggscellent question! We love to hear that people are eager to recycle our paper inserts, but unfortunately without them, we can't identify the cartons as ours. So in the case of the Take Back Program, we kindly ask you to keep them in. And we will go ahead and recycle it! Thanks again for your interest in our Take Back Program!

a.burtonDecember 31, 2021

your recycling plan sounds good. Now I’m willing to buy your hens’ eggs


We're so glad to hear this! Thank you for supporting our happy hens!

Cynthia IbergDecember 29, 2021

Cynthia Iberg 322 Community Circle Palmyra, PA 17078 mailing 1 box filled with 10 cartons


Hi Cynthia, we're eggscited to receive your box! If you could email us at kindn[email protected], we will send you a shipping label.

Kevin SmithDecember 16, 2021

Will you take #1 egg cartons from other brands of eggs or just from Nellies eggs?


Hi Kevin, we will only be able to take back our own egg cartons.

Carolyn Dorey November 19, 2021

I have card egg boxes.


Hi Carolyn, do you have cartons to send back? If so, we'd love to assist you with that. Drop us a line at [email protected]!

Oscar TorresNovember 08, 2021

Hi there, we were ready to buy another organic eggs with a more environmental friendly packaging because we didn't know you took your plastic back. Great, because we like your eggs.


Hi Oscar! We are so happy to hear that you have decided to give us another chance. We sympathize with you about wanting to be environmentally conscious. Hence why we are very proud of our carton take back program. Thank you for continuing to support our mission!

William Knox November 02, 2021

We have egg cartons to recycle


Hi William, if you'd like to participate in the carton take-back program, send us an email at [email protected]! Be sure to include: how many cartons you'll be sending back, and your full name/mailing address. Thank you for supporting our hens! :)

Lori BrownOctober 31, 2021

Hello, I was reading all the emails and noticed a discrepancy. On 12/28/20, you replied to an email saying "you will take sister brand egg packages and other #1 plastic egg cartons. But then on 4/19/21, you replied to another person asking a similar question, "that you only guarantee our manufacturers will take our cartons" Sometimes your eggs are not available at my store, and I have bought another brand with plastic packaging, so I am curious to see which answer is correct. Thankyou, Lori Brown


Hi Lori, I'd be happy to answer that question for you! Since the email was sent to you in late December '20, we have revised our policy on the plastic carton take-back program. We will take back our cartons and any of our sister brand, Pete and Gerry's Organics. However, any other brand of plastic egg cartons we won't be able to take back at this time. I hope this helps!

GretchenSeptember 20, 2021

Like the posts here, so glad to know about the study you did. Since new technologies evolve constantly, will you commission a new study since the one you did was in 2012? In those nine years it could well be that this #1plastic is not the best option anymore , especially since 1) so many communities do NOT take in this plastic and 2) even more significantly, so MANY in the US don’t care one single bit about recycling, nor which packaging has the least impacting footprint. A new study will be one more outstanding, positive, pro-Earth thing Nellie’s does!! Thank you!!


Thanks for asking! In considering what data used in the study could be outdated, the biggest change we're aware of is an increase in recycling rates - which would mean our cartons are actually more earth-friendly than previously reported! That said, we're always looking for more sustainable packaging options. A few years ago we tried out a hybrid paper-pulp carton that used less recycled plastic, but offered insufficient protection for our eggs and increased food waste. We also launched an eggciting reusable egg carton early last year to eliminate single-use plastic in the egg aisle, but pandemic restrictions forced us to put these cartons on pause for now. We truly appreciate your commitment to the planet, and we look forward to exploring more sustainable packaging options in the future!

LisaSeptember 18, 2021

I, too, wondered about the plastic and I didn't readily see a recycle symbol on the container. So I was glad you had something on the label leading me to your website! Now I know! And I'm thankful for the carton take back program in case my recycling doesn't accept #1. I had a pet chicken (who lived outside) and was free-range. Your eggs remind me of hers (shell, yollk)! <3 I was so glad to see these in the store when the person I was buying eggs from quit having chickens and yours are about the same price I was paying for those!


We're happy to hear that you love our eggs and found the info on our Take Back Program! We encourage you to check out some of our recipes as well so that you have a plethora of ideas to use our yummy free range eggs!

Kris johnson September 08, 2021

Love this!


We're glad you've found this helpful, Kris!

Debbi NagelAugust 25, 2021

Awesome! Your carton take back program is just what we wanted to hear! Thank you!


We're glad to hear it, Debbi! We'll be looking forward to sending you a mailing label!

Barbara SchuszlerAugust 22, 2021

So excited about the Take Back Program! I had switched from Nellie’s to a different free range organic brand because of the plastic. I have learned that you can’t be sure that the chickens are treated as well as they can be just because they are free range and organic. My research into humanely raised chickens led me back to Nellie’s and Pete and Gerry’s. I was happily surprised to learn that your plastic cartons actually have a smaller footprint than my current cardboard. I love the Take Back Program because I can be sure my cartons won’t be turned into landfill.


We are overjoyed to hear that you are so excited about the Take Back Program, Barbara! Every carton counts!

Polly BeasonAugust 01, 2021

Thanks for this program to take back plastic egg cartons !


And thank YOU for participating, Polly!

Lóides De MelloJuly 16, 2021

Great! I’ll be in


That's great! We look forward to sending a prepaid label your way soon!

Dawn Ewing April 19, 2021

I love Nellies Eggs. I have searching and searching for a way to recycle the plastic egg cartons. I am happy that I found this program. I was on the verge of switching to a brand that used cardboard egg cartons, just so I could recycle them. But, now I do not have to worry about that. I do want to know, Do you take other brands of plastic egg cartons or just NELLIES? I ask because where I purchase my eggs does not always have NELLIES in stock, so I substitute until they do.


We're glad to hear that you love our eggs and you are participating in our take back program! We can only guarantee that our manufacturer will take our cartons, so with optimal sustainability in mind, we only accept our cartons to be returned.

Ann BennettMarch 27, 2021

I am a retired teacher who collected cardboard egg cartons for projects. I have about 2 dozens or more egg cartons to donate. Please let me know if you can use them and how can I get them to you. They are not your brand but probably you can still use them.


Hi Ann! Feel free to send us a message and we're happy to see what we can do. Our email address is: [email protected] Thanks!

JaneMarch 15, 2021

I love your eggs and was so happy that I followed up about recycling your packaging. That is great! Now I feel even better about your eggs. I will definitely buy your eggs again and again. My town does not take any plastic under #5, so your take back program is definitely a plus. Thank you ❤️


Hi Jane, We are so happy we could help

Lisa GramannJanuary 19, 2021

Wow! I wish more people knew about this program! I followed the "learn more" link on my latest Nellie's egg carton and I did learn more! Thank you! My city is very particular about accepting which plastics and the shape of those plastics for recycling.


HI Lisa! We're so glad we could help you to learn more about why we've chosen our packaging. We look forward to sending a prepaid label your way soon!

KathyDecember 28, 2020

What if I have #1 plastic cartons from a different egg producer? Can I include those in my carton shipment to Nellies?


Hi Kathy, In addition to accepting our sister brands such as Pete and Gerry's cartons, we also accept other brands.

Vicki NeeleyDecember 27, 2020

Thank you for the explanation. I prefer to buy free range eggs, but there are limited options. So thank you for being one of those options. I'm amazed at how many people equate cage free with free range. My one concern has always been the packaging. Knowing that you use 100% pcrp for your packages, I can buy my eggs with a clear conscience.


Hi Vicki, We are so glad that you look out for the planet and understand how many options we provide to our consumers in regards to our packaging. Be well!

PattiDecember 21, 2020

My next egg purchase will be Nellie's and I will save the cartons to mail back.


Hi Patti, we are incredibly grateful towards your loyalty to Nellie's and to our planet! Send us an email when you are ready to send back your cartons. Be well!

Karyn December 06, 2020

Love this!!! I will only be buying your eggs from now on!! Will tell our friends too!!🌻🌲🌵🌳🌴


Thank you for your love and support!

Judy De Guise November 14, 2020

do you take back cardboard egg cartons . we would drop then off we live in ottawa area we must have over 50 if not more


Hi there, unfortunately we only take back our PET recycled plastic cartons. Sometimes small natural foods stores or local farms will take cartons to refill with eggs so you may want to check in with any local farms in your area to see if they might be looking for cartons. Hope this helps!

Jane ThomasNovember 11, 2020

Love this program!! Keep up the good work!😀


Thank you, Jane! We greatly appreciate your support.

Renate CallahanNovember 09, 2020

This is such a super idea. Thank you for your thoughtfulness.


Thank you for looking into our carton takeback program. We are so glad you are in support of our efforts to ensure our recyclable cartons actually get recycled and hope you will take us up on the offer if you are ever in need of an outlet for your cartons.

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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