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How To Recycle Packaging Materials


With so many people resorting to having things delivered in order to stay #saferathome, lots of folks will be receiving bubblewrap envelops or boxed filled with different types of shipping packing.  I thought I would review the shipment packaging types and the best ways to reuse, recycle, and/or store them. Here’s everything you need to know to recycle packaging materials in order to reduce waste.

how to recycle packaging

Tips For Recycling Packaging From Shipments

With package deliveries comes packaging for the consumer to get rid of. You could just dump it all in the trash but that only hides the problem. Recycling packaging helps reduce waste and lessen the raw materials needed to make more packaging. Reusing packaging is even more eco-friendly since it is the most efficient option and it does not require anything new to be made. Here are my best tips for how to recycle packaging of various types.

How To Recycle Plastic Packaging Materials

Bubble Wrap

Popped bubble wrap is accepted for recycling at some facilities.  However, bubble wrap is relatively pricey and very useful to have on hand so I try to save mine to reuse it.  Just roll the bubble wrap neatly and deposit it in a cardboard shipping box that you can repurpose as a storage box by adding a label.  If you don’t have the storage space for bubble wrap, you can bring it to a UPS store and they will reuse it for you.

Bubble wrap envelopes that are completely plastic can be recycled in the same way (deflate the bubbles). You can also save them for reuse in a storage box and then just tape a sheet of paper over the old address information and add the new shipping information. The bubble wrap envelopes that are a combination of paper and plastic can’t be recycled but they can be reused.

Ways to reuse bubble wrap:

  1. Make your own cooler!  You can use bubble wrap to line a cardboard box and create your own insulated box that you can keep in your trunk for grocery trips.
  2.  You can use bubble wrap to insulate your delicate plants and protect them from frosts.  I planted my garden early last spring and employed bubble wrap and cardboard boxes for protection from a last frost.
  3. Bubble wrap is also fun for kids and they can build boats and do science experiments with what keeps things afloat of different shapes and weights.

Plastic Air Cushion Bags And Plastic Film

Plastic air cushion bags can be recycled by deflating them. They can then be deposited along with clean plastic film at your local grocery store plastic bag return.  Alternatively, plastic air cushion bags can also be stored neatly in your packing storage box for reuse.

These tips for how to recycle plastic packaging are especially important because plastic lasts so long and can be so detrimental to wildlife.

How To Recycle Packing Peanuts

Are you wondering how to recycle packaging peanuts? Well, there are two types of packing peanuts- polystyrene foam and corn starch.  The corn starch packing peanuts are biodegradable and nontoxic and will dissolve in water.  The polystrene packing peanuts may not be recycled but they can be reused over and over.

For some reason, my daughter loves packing peanuts that come in packages.  She squeals in delight and deposits them into a trash bag that she calls her packing peanut collection.  I raid her collection from time to time and reuse them to ship things. When the bag gets too full, I drop off extras at UPS, and they happily reuse them for me.  

Creative ways to reuse polystyrene packing peanuts:

  1. Use packing peanuts at the bottom of your pots.  Packing peanuts can help you fill the space if you don’t have enough dirt and they help create good drainage for the pot as well.
  2. Crafting kids will enjoy having packing peanuts to work with.  They can use their imaginations to create anything from caterpillars to igloos.  (In fact your local school art department, may be in need of packing peanuts.)
  3. Use packing peanuts as stuffing, like they did in this cute tutorial, for throw pillows.

How To Recycle Foam (Polystyrene) Packaging

You would most commonly see this foam packaging if you were to receive electronics or anything else that needs a molded packaging to ship. While not many places offer recycling of this type, it is available in more and more places each year. Check with your local recycling facility or Sealed Air has created a network of facilities that accept EPE foam for recycling via mail. Visit Sealed Air Sustainability to learn more. If this doesn’t help you, you can always break it down and use it as you would packing peanuts in planters or use it as the base to sculpt around in art projects.

recycle shipping packaging

How To Recycle Cardboard Boxes

Boxes are the most easy packaging to recycle. Most people know that cardboard boxes can be recycled fairly easily.  Just cut the tape and flatten your boxes for easy storage or recycling. 

Creative ways to reuse boxes:

  1. Let your kids have the boxes and challenge them to use their creativity to build a fort.  This ought to keep your kids active for a least an afternoon.
  2. Small boxes and shoe boxes can be made pretty with used wrapping paper or fabric and reused for organizing and storage purposes. See this great tutorial.
  3. Cardboard can also be used in your compost layered with “green” material such as kitchen vegetable scraps and grass clippings. (Just be sure to remove any tape on the boxes.)
  4. Reuse your box to ship your Christmas presents.  Just peel off the old labels and affix new ones.
  5. Try some of these cardboard box crafts.

How To Recycle Shipping Pallets

Wooden pallets can be dropped off at your local Home Depot or Lowes for re-use. Or if you’ll be looking for campfire wood, these pallets can also make for a great fire. Just be sure to remove all the nails before you get started. Also, there are lots of great ideas for upcycling like these five DIY Pallet Projects. Simply brilliant and unique ideas!

You can also find homes for all types of packaging by using Craigslist or Nextdoor as many local businesses and Ebay sellers would like to cut their shipping expenses.  Do you know of any creative ways to reuse your packaging? I’d love to hear them.

I hope you found these tips for how to recycle packaging useful. Thanks for trying to make greener choices! Tag me in your recycle and resuse projects #familyfocusblog

Related Posts:

How to Reuse Glass Jars

Go Green Infographic To Inspire You To Take Action

How To Reuse An Old Door- DIY Entryway Bench



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