Eco-Friendly Bubble Wrap Alternative: Shredded Cardboard
What is the best eco-friendly alternative for bubble wrap? We believe it’s scrap cardboard that is perforated with a cardboard shredder into a flexible padding material. With this compact recycling machine, you reuse your own cardboard waste as free and sustainable packaging material for shipping products safely.
Read more about cardboard shredders or read more about (corrugated) bubble wrap and eco-friendly alternatives below.
What is bubble wrap?
Bubble wrap is a transparent, flexible, and elastic packaging material made of plastic. Air bubbles are incorporated into the plastic foil which serves as cushioning to protect fragile objects during transport.
Bubble wrap is one of the most used packaging materials in the world. The material was founded (by accident) in 1957 by two engineers, Alfred Fielding and Marc Chavannas. It was then called ‘Air Cap’.
The main advantages are that bubble wrap is light, easy to use, and protects fragile items. The downsides are that the material takes up space at your facility, it is costly to transport because of the air pockets, and the material is difficult to recycle.
Is bubble wrap recyclable?
Yes, every plastic is recyclable because it is made of petroleum. But the challenge is that each type of plastic needs to be separated into a single stream in order to recycle it properly, and this also applies to bubble wrap.
240,000 miles or over 38600 km of bubble wrap is produced annually in the US.
The type of plastic that is used for making bubble wrap is a low-density polyethylene film (LDPF). And this material is not accepted for curbside recycling in the US and thus it is not allowed to discard bubble warp into a normal curbside recycling bin.
Why is bubble wrap not accepted for curbside recycling?
- The plastic film can contaminate other recyclable items at the recycling center because the film can tangle with other recycling items. This makes it difficult for recycling companies to separate bubble wrap from other recyclable materials.
- Another problem at the recycling center is that bubble wrap can jam machinery used at the facility.
What usually happens with bubble wrap is that it’s sent to the landfill with general waste, where it takes 10-1,000 years to degrade.
To ensure that the bubble wrap doesn’t end up in a landfill, it must be taken to a specialized recycling center or drop-off point. The discarded packaging material needs to be segregated by residents and businesses in order to recycle the material at designated recycling centers that are specialized in recycling LDPF waste materials.
Alternative to bubble wrap
Bubble wrap can create a waste problem that is out of your sight. As a distributor who ships products, you literally saddle the customer with the waste problem. It is their responsibility now to properly dispose the packaging material in order to recycle it properly.
What can you use instead of bubble wrap?
Luckily there are green alternatives to bubble wrap that are more sustainable and less impactful to nature. Common eco-friendly alternatives are for instance paper bubble wrap that is made of FSC certified material, or biodegradable bubble wrap.
The United States in 2021 had a dismal recycling rate of about 5 percent for post-consumer plastic waste.
The problem with these sustainable alternatives is that they are more expensive and therefore make your shipment more expensive.
Scrap cardboard as the best green alternative
Cardboard is a natural material made from wood fibers, making it 100% recyclable. This material is a perfect sustainable substitute for bubble wrap packaging. But how can scrap cardboard be used as bubble wrap?
You need a cardboard shredder to convert old cardboard into perforated netting. The machine turns cardboard sheets, such as boxes, into flexible padding material that has the same protective features as bubble wrap. That is why the material is also called: Corrugated Bubble.
You can use shredded cardboard as wrapping to protect goods, or as a void-filling material inside the box.
The main advantage of using corrugated bubble wrap is that the material is environmentally friendly and reduces the cost of waste transportation and packaging material. It also makes it easier for your customer to discard the packaging material since both the box and the padding are made of one type of material.
When you sell products, there is a good chance that you already have a lot of cardboard waste. So why not reuse this material as packaging material for the shipment of your products?
Using cardboard as packaging also boosts your company’s sustainable image. Consumers are increasingly in demand for sustainable packaging and do really appreciate it when they receive a product that is free from unnecessary plastic packaging.
Two-thirds of consumers consider it important that products they buy are in recyclable packaging, according to Trivium Packaging’s 2021 Global Buying Green Report. More than half take sustainable packaging into consideration when selecting a product.
Make your own eco-friendly bubble wrap
Start making sustainable bubble wrap made from your own cardboard waste. A lot of companies are already using cardboard shredders to convert their own cardboard waste into basically free packaging material. Read all about the benefits of a cardboard shredder.
Do you want some inspiration?
We have asked Air Plant Shop, one of our customers, about their experience with a cardboard shredder. Air Plant Shop bought an HSM ProfiPack P425 cardboard shredder to repurpose cardboard waste and use less plastic bubble wrap.
Our cardboard shredder has allowed us to completely eliminate the use of bubble wrap at our facility.
Christy | Airplantshop.com
Read about their experience with their cardboard shredder and how the buying process went together with HSM.
We can also recommend taking a look at this customer case from MotorNuts at Recycling-Magazine.com.
More bubble wrap alternatives and ideas
Are you looking for other alternatives for bubble wrap, rather than shredded cardboard? Then we recommend you take a look at this excellent top 10 list on Zenpack.us. The page shows 10 eco-friendly bubble wrap alternatives, such as ‘honeycomb kraft paper’ and ‘paper air cushions’.
By Recycling.com/ 18 May 2022