To some extent, whether or not you can recycle packing peanuts is determined by their composition and the sort of recycling facilities available in your area.
Pink, green, and white-colored packing peanuts can be utilized for various purposes and indicate whether or not they’re recyclable and biodegradable.
Expanded polystyrene was used in the past to make these delicate pieces of packing material.
Consumers may find it puzzling, though, as more environmentally friendly materials have been created in recent years.
Here’s a guide to help you discover where and how to recycle packing peanuts, and accessible and creative methods to repurpose this material around the house.
Do Packing Peanuts Have to Be Thrown Away?
In addition to Styrofoam, polystyrene is used to make daily items such as packaging materials like packing peanuts.
To recycle polystyrene at the curb, it has to go to a recycling plant, where it doesn’t break down effectively, and there are only a few applications for it.
Using polystyrene plates and food containers might lead to contamination of other recyclable materials because of food waste that accumulates on them.
When it comes to packing peanuts, they’re nothing more than air-filled polystyrene that has been inflated.
As a result, they are an excellent packing material and insulator because they are 95 percent air.
The recycling center also has an issue with packing peanuts, blown away by the air and taking up valuable storage space.
Your local Kinko’s or FedEx may have recycling initiatives if you choose to have them recycled. Consider recycling packing peanuts and bubble wrap.
Bubble wrap that is clean and dry can be returned to participating supermarkets and retail outlets.
Preparation for Packing Peanut Recycling
Remove everything from the shipment box except for the EPS packaging and plastic bags before adding the packing peanuts.
You won’t be able to find any recycler that will readily accept all of these additional items at once.
Aside from white packing peanuts, you’ll want to separate any other colors that some drop-off locations may reject.
Clear plastic bags work well for storing your packing peanuts.
When mailing gifts for birthdays or holidays, keep the packing peanuts at your home or apartment.
Buying new packing peanuts is unnecessary if you already have an ample supply of re-used ones.
Check with your local shipping businesses to see whether they take packing peanuts for reuse. Additionally, you may want to inquire about donating art supplies to schools and churches.
Some recyclers accept peanuts, though there are fewer options than shipping outlets. Thus recycling should be considered a backup alternative.
It’s a good idea to contact them ahead of time and ensure a minimum amount isn’t required for recycling.
Keep the packing peanuts in one bag if you must dispose of them in the trash so that they don’t become litter while being transported by the garbage truck.
Can You Reuse Packing Peanuts?
When birds and fish see packing peanuts floating in the ocean, they may mistake them for food and eat them.
Because packing peanuts do not biodegrade, it will take many years for them to break down in a garbage disposal facility.
All kinds of things may be made from recycled EPS, from rulers and picture frames to new EPS.
Polystyrene was the primary component of packing peanuts that were traditional, and they were first made commercially accessible in the mid-1960s by Dow Chemicals.
Toys, dishware, jewelry boxes, and other consumer goods can all be made with #6 plastic. Expanded polystyrene is created by blowing air into #6 plastic.
Some packing peanuts are constructed of EPS, better known by the Styrofoam brand name. Non-biodegradable and non-recyclable, EPS is made of polyethylene terephthalate (EPS).
So they wind up polluting the streets for years, and they may stay in landfills for centuries. Starch-based packing peanuts were introduced in the early 1990s as a biodegradable substitute for EPS.
These are brand-new to the market and made of sustainable materials. Corn starch is the most common ingredient; however other firms utilize sorghum, a grain commonly used in animal feed, molasses, and even human nutrition on rare occasions.
Starch-based packing peanuts appear and function like polystyrene ones, but they will biodegrade over time, making them environmentally friendly.
Although they are more expensive than polystyrene, they are at least better for the environment in terms of their environmental impact.
They are also known for being less durable and heavier, produce more dust, and may draw in rats, making them a less desirable option.
Fortunately, you may throw away the starch-based peanuts in the sink because they disintegrate when exposed to water.
Reusing and Recycling Packing Peanuts
Re-Use a Defunct Wine Bottle
Alternatively, packing peanuts can be used to fill a glass or even an antique vase in case wine bottles have become very rustic for you.
You’ll need to be creative and grasp stacking techniques to create something more than air-filled foam balls.
Flowers (or other sorts of décor) may be employed if these containers are used as flower pots. In addition to using them as vases, you could also use them as candlesticks or filler pieces around a table.
There are many colors to choose from now and it’s not challenging to locate them. It’s also a good idea to replace your old packing peanuts with new ones from time to time.
As a bonus, you don’t have to get rid of anything.
Put Some Inside Your Boots or Shoes If You Like
Put some packing peanuts into your shoes or boots to keep them smelling fresh.
You can eliminate any remaining odors from previous days’ footwear use by packaging the shoes in packing peanuts.
When you’re ready to wear your shoes or boots again, throw out the old packing peanuts and get some new ones. This will help keep your boots and shoes fresh.
Make a Work of Art Out of Packing Peanuts
Fill a container or an old vase with packing peanuts before attempting to turn it into a work of art.
When the bag is full, gently shake it to distribute the contents before removing the tissue paper (commonly used as a packing material) and re-filling the bag with solely packing peanuts.
You may now form packing peanuts into your chosen shape by drying them precisely like clay.
You Can Use Packing Peanuts to Safeguard Fragile Products Sent Through the Mail
In addition to packing and shipping, packing peanuts can be used for various purposes.
In the mail, they protect fragile products, cover empty areas to avoid things from bouncing around, and keep phones safe by putting a layer of padding between them.
Packing peanuts manufactured from plant-based materials are the most acceptable option. When your cargo reaches its destination, it will be recyclable and biodegradable if any are leftover.
Disposing of Peanuts in a Safe and Legal Manner
Dissolve the biodegradable packing peanuts (starch-based) in water, and they’ll be gone. In the meanwhile, how may starch-based peanuts be distinguished from polystyrene peanuts?
The first step is to look closely using your naked eyes. There is a good chance that pink or white packing peanuts are composed of polystyrene.
To make it easier to tell them apart from their foam equivalents, biodegradable ones are usually green in color. You can use static electricity produced from them to charge clothing.
There is a difference between biodegradable and polystyrene containers. Drop them into a mug of warm water to see whether they’re still intact.
The biodegradable ones are safe to dissolve in water if they disintegrate. They are foam ones if they do not.
Unfortunately, all methods of disposing of polystyrene packing peanuts harm the environment.
Some firms may take them, utilize them for packaging, or reuse them for other purposes, so you need to examine if there are any.
Drop-off locations only take white packing peanuts, as a rule, so be sure to sort yours before bringing it in.
You may also package them to prevent them from escaping and becoming a hazard on the road.
To determine whether you may use them in creative projects, you can contact local schools and churches. EPS recyclers take these peanuts, but it’s a secondary alternative for them.
To find out if there is a minimum quantity acceptable for recycling, get in touch with them. Packaging peanuts can be reused at home if the disposal isn’t an option.
It’s possible to keep them in your house and have them ready to use when you need to mail gifts for birthdays or holidays.
There is no need to buy new packing peanuts when you have a surplus of old ones. Also, keep in mind that you may require packing peanuts to protect your fragile items if you decide to move.
Packing peanuts may be used in various ways, making them a seemingly infinite resource in any household.
Don’t forget to use the cost-effective and time-saving options of recycling packing peanuts if you have a spare space or plan to make another buy soon.
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