If you’ve ever ordered a package with a fragile item inside, you’ve likely acquired some bubble wrap.
Bubble wrap is great for packaging a variety of items and making sure they stay safe throughout the shipping process.
However, there are many causes for concern when it comes to how to dispose of bubble wrap.
Landfills and oceans are increasingly becoming polluted with plastic. Thus, people are looking for more eco-friendly ways to dispose of or reuse this material.
How you ultimately decide to dispose of bubble wrap will depend on a variety of factors, including but not limited to your own personal concerns and values.
You can dispose of bubble wrap in many ways.
After receiving bubble wrap, the most common practices include reusing it, posting it online for donation, donating it in person, recycling it, and throwing it in the garbage.
Best Option – Reuse the Bubble Wraps
The best option for getting rid of your bubble wrap in one form is to reuse it in a different state!
This option is the most eco-friendly one because even recycling bubble wrap uses more energy than simply storing it away and using it for a different purpose within your own home.
There are many different ways to reuse bubble wrap, including but not limited to the following options.
You got it due to packaging, so why not use it for future packaging?
Your used bubble wrap will prove useful again the next time you want to ship something or wrap a gift.
Reusing bubble wrap is also useful for travel.
For example, it’s helpful for packing something up safely in a checked bag before air travel or even stacking items in your car before a road trip.
Many people reuse their cardboard boxes and old suitcases to store seasonal or antique items in their garage, shed, or attic.
You can use bubble wrap to help keep these items safer, cleaner, and even more organized.
It’s not a bad idea to store fragile holiday decorations, artwork, and antique gifts with your old bubble wrap.
Bubble wrap can help maintain the temperature of food, cars, homes, plants, and even greenhouses.
For example, placing bubble wrap in your grocery bags can help keep your cold food cold.
Another practical use for bubble wrap is insulating outdoor plants, especially during the winter. Bubble wrap can help prevent frost damage to your plants.
Finally, you can seal bubble wrap to your windows in your home or car during the colder seasons in order to prevent heat loss and keep your spaces nice and toasty.
There are numerous ways that people have become highly creative with bubble wrap.
You can check out this bubble wrap art page on Pinterest for unique ideas.
You can also redesign bubble wrap for practical purposes, such as fashioning it into a sleeping mat for outdoor camping or designing it into a knee pad for house chores.
If you are planning to reuse the bubble wrap in the future, make sure to refrain from popping the bubbles. I know, popping those bubbles is just too much fun, but doing that renders most of the bubble wrap unusable for further packing.
If you have a surplus of bubble wrap and cannot find a use for it for yourself, try donating it to someone else who might be able to put it to better use.
Many postal service retailers take donations of bubble wrap if it is clean.
Contact your local UPS store, Post Net, or another postal service retailer to see if they take this type of donation.
When you think of environmentally-friendly disposal, recycling may reasonably come to mind. Fortunately, bubble wrap is indeed 100% recyclable.
Recycling bubble wrap will help you prevent bubble wrap from compiling up in your home but also prevent more plastic from filling up in oceans and landfills.
However, you cannot simply put your bubble wrap in a curbside recycling bin with the rest of your recyclables.
The reason is that – in addition to cardboard, paper, metal cans, etc. – you fill your recycling bin with hard plastics. These include bottles, jugs, and containers.
These hard plastics have a Resin Identification Code (RIC) of #1 or #2, which refers to what the plastic is made up of.
The lower range of classic action means that these plastics are made from PET (polyethylene terephthalate) or HDPE (high-density polyethylene).
Alternatively, bubble wrap is classified higher — RIC #4 — as LDPE (low-density polyethylene). In other words, it is considered a plastic film.
Other plastic films include plastic bags, bread wraps, soft plastic wrappers, and shrink wraps.
Because of their film-like nature, they can contaminant the recycling system by clogging plastic processing machines.
They can also cause injury to a sanitation worker if they are trying to clear out the jam.
Ultimately, it is bad news to recycle these items in the same way you recycle hard plastics.
To recycle bubble wrap correctly, you first want to do the fun part – pop all of the bubbles!
If this doesn’t appeal to you, or you have a lot of bubble wrap to cover, it shouldn’t be difficult to ask a family member or friend to help you out with this process.
Secondly, find your local plastic film recycling drop-off location. You can search for this on Plastic Film Recycling.
Another website you can use to find your local drop-off is Earth 911.
Typically, if a recycling center says that it accepts plastic bags, they also accept bubble wrap.
Some retailers that typically accept this recycling – stores, supermarkets, pharmacies, etc. – have stopped the collection of plastic items during Covid-19.
Collect and keep your bubble wrap items at home until your retailer is ready to accept the donations once again.
Companies tend to create a large amount of plastic film waster, including bubble wrap.
If this is the case for your company, try partnering with a water and recycling company, such as Rubicon.
These companies make bubble wrap recycling more accessible for other companies.
They provide pick-up services, create plastic film recycling programs, and form partnerships with local haulers and balers.
There are clear benefits of recycling and reusing bubble wrap, both for the environment and the economy.
Recycling and reusing bubble wrap is essential in reducing land and ocean pollution.
Since you are not throwing the bubble wrap in the garbage, it does not end up in a landfill, or worse, the oceans.
Reusing bubble wrap is the most eco-friendly option because it lowers energy production.
Recycling is generally eco-friendly, but it does create a lot of energy, which contributes to the greenhouse gas effect.
This is not a common reason when you think of the benefit of recycling bubble wrap, but recycling, in general, supports job creation.
One thousand tons of recycled materials produce $65.23 worth of wages and 1.17 jobs in the United States.
Given the benefits of reusing and recycling bubble wrap listed above, the worst option for disposing of bubble wrap is putting it in the garbage.
As mentioned above, throwing bubble wrap in the garbage causes it to end up in landfills or the oceans.
In landfills, plastic items can take up to 1,000 years to decompose.
And 8 million tons of plastic get into the oceans every year, causing serious damage to marine life.
In conclusion, there are many ways to dispose of bubble wrap once it falls into your hands. And there are benefits and disadvantages of each option.
You can reuse the bubble wrap.
There are ecological and environmental benefits to refusing bubble wrap, and there are numerous ways in which you can do so.
However, you may end up with a lot more bubble wrap than you know how to use.
You can donate bubble wrap online or in person. However, it may take some time to find someone who wants to take your bubble wrap from you.
You can recycle bubble wrap. However, it is not as easy as recycling other items, and you will have to find a recycling center that accepts plastic films.
Finally, you can put it in the garbage.
However, there are serious long-term ecological and environmental consequences to letting bubble wrap end up in landfills or the oceans.
Ultimately, you have to choose the best option for how to dispose of bubble wrap. This decision will depend on your location, needs, access, and values.
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