The pilot program has been so successful, it's set to expand next year.

By Jelisa Castrodale
Updated December 20, 2019

Several years ago, organic egg brand Pete and Gerry's went through the process of changing its egg packaging and, in an effort to make the most environmentally responsible choice, it collaborated with a Canadian research organization that specialized in that kind of thing. After considering its options, the New Hampshire company decided to go with a recycled polyethylene terephthalate (RPET) plastic carton, both because it required less energy to produce than a carton made from virgin plastic, and because it could be recycled again after use.

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"While we wish we could sell our eggs in wooden boxes or wicker baskets that were reused over and over, we feel as though we've arrived at the best possible solution we can for the time being," the company wrote on its blog at the time. "We ask that you always recycle your Pete and Gerry's cartons after use and we can continue to keep our carbon footprint as low as possible."

But earlier this week, Pete and Gerry's announced that it had replaced those RPET cartons with a different recycled BPA-free plastic version, one that can be washed, taken back to the store, and refilled with another dozen eggs. The company says that this is the egg industry's first-ever reusable carton (although it's obviously not the first one in existence, ever.)

Pete and Gerry's

The cartons have been part of a pilot program at Hanover Co-Op Food Stores in New Hampshire and Vermont, but following an increase in same-store sales and positive customer feedback, the company plans to make them available in additional retailers in 2020. Pete and Gerry's CEO Jesse Laflamme told Fast Company that, so far, they've sold about 500 of the reusable version.

"[W]e continue to challenge ourselves to find even better ways to improve our environmental stewardship," Laflamme said. "Reusable cartons are a logical next step in our ongoing commitment to sustainability, moving consumer behavior from recycling to reuse."

Pete and Gerry's

Each reusable carton costs $2.99, and can be refilled with unpackaged eggs from a separate Pete and Gerry's display; the company says that these "loose eggs" will be available at a slightly lower price than their packaged counterparts, which helps to cover the initial cost of the carton.

The average American eats around 23 cartons worth of eggs every year, and Pete and Gerry's says that just one person swapping a standard carton for a reusable one could "save more than 1,800 cartons from entering the recycling and waste stream." (Okay, if you do the math, that suggests that the average egg purchaser starts buying eggs at birth, and continues to purchase 23 cartons of eggs for every year of their 78-year lifespan, which sounds...slightly unlikely, but the point being made about the impact is still significant).

Regardless, if we're carrying recycled water bottles and reusable shopping bags, why not add a reusable egg carton in there, too?