When one thinks of egg cartons, rarely do they consider the environmental impacts of the carton they are sold in and the materials used. The traditional egg carton holds a dozen eggs with each egg placed with the large end up. According to the US Poultry & Egg Association, this design “helps keep the air cell in place and the yolk centered.” While the eggs are being packaged, they are separated by size (Jumbo, Extra Large, Large, Medium, Small and Pee Wee) and packaged accordingly. But change could be in the horizon for egg packaging!
A Hungarian designer and graduate student Otília Andrea Erdélyi has designed an egg carton that is both environmentally friendly and easy on the eyes. Erdélyi’s egg carton design is simple, minimalist and if I may so, chic. But the best part is that the carton is made out of a single piece of natural microwaved cardboard and thus, requires much less material than the traditional carton.
My goal was to design an innovative package using a small amount of material. It’s made of natural microwaved cardboard and consists of one piece. The eggs placed into ellipse-shaped cuts. The consumer can get the eggs by the turning of topside.
But is it worth it to change a good thing? Critics of the newly designed egg carton point out that much of the egg remains exposed, leaving many opportunities for an egg to crack or be damaged. And should an egg crack, it would leak right out of the carton–as opposed to the traditional carton where a cracked egg would keep the mess within the box.
While critics can make a compelling case that the redesigned carton leaves too much of the egg exposed, they can’t dispute the fact that the egg carton may be in dire need of redesigning–at least in terms of materials used. Statistics estimate that the average American family uses 41 dozen cartons of egg a year and most egg cartons contain one common ingredient: Polystyrene.
The main environmental concern with polystyrene, a popular material used for packaging, is that it is not biodegradable. What’s more it hurts our environment and our health by releasing pollutants into the air–the US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) identified 57 chemical byproducts that were released into our atmosphere in the production of polystyrene and many of the chemicals cause serious health effects.
According to Australia’s Cleanup.org:
Polystyrene foam is bulky and non- degradable, meaning that it takes up a significant volume of landfill over long periods. Because it is composed of around 95% air, foam is highly mobile and escapes from garbage bins and landfill. It tends to flake, with small pieces of litter travelling long distances and harming wildlife upon ingestion.
That said, many egg cartons do come in a recycled container, but certainly not enough! Even if Erdélyi’s design is deemed impractical and not implemented, at least it started the conversation about redesigning egg cartons.