Many people are excited to see the brown cardboard boxes that line their porch when they get home.
Whether you were waiting for a brand new book or a fragile serving dish, most boxes come with some sort of bubble wrap to protect the contents. Unfortunately, this bubble wrap takes up a lot of space, and people are in a hurry to get rid of it.
Can you recycle bubble wrap?
The good news is that bubble wrap can be recycled, but it should not be placed in your curbside recycling bin. Instead, you should take it to special collection areas usually found in grocery stores or retail outlets.
In this article, we will explore the ways you can safely recycle bubble wrap and why!
Can Bubble Wrap Go in the Recycling Bin?
The short answer here is that bubble wrap does not belong in the blue curbside recycling bin that you are used to using.
This bin is great for collecting papers and other types of plastic, but the plastic used to make bubble wrap a little different.
Most of the time, bubble wrap consists of #4 low-density polyethylene film. This is very different from regular #4 plastic that you might find with more rigid juice containers and other items.
These types of plastic films also used to make plastic shopping bags cannot be recycled with your other items. They get too easily tangled up with other items during the sorting process and can jam machines.
For each jam in the machine, time and money is on the line as well as the longevity of the machine itself.
The more times that a unit breaks down, the less likely it is to live a long and healthy life.
Instead, you should take your bubble wrap to the kiosks that you find at the entrance to many national chain grocery stores or retail outlets that are specifically designed for collecting plastic bags to recycle.
You can find these bins at popular places like Target, Walmart, Whole Foods, and Safeway.
Can Bubble Wrap Be Recycled With Plastic Bags?
Yes, bubble wrap can easily be recycled with plastic bags.
Plastic shopping bags are often made from either #2 high-density polyethylene film or the same #4 low-density polyethylene film that bubble wrap is made from.
Because of the overlap here, bubble wrap can and should be recycled with your plastic bags.
Is Bubble Wrap Considered to be Environmentally Friendly?
Bubble wrap seems like an unavoidable item for those who want to ship fragile items.
The air pockets tend to cushion fragile items better than corrugated cardboard, plastic bags, or shredded paper is capable of doing. The question is, is bubble wrap environmentally friendly, or should we settle for some of these lesser items?
The argument could be made that bubble wrap is an environmentally friendly product. First of all, it protects the items that it ships from becoming damaged in transit. Damaged items are ultimately shipped back and forth until they can arrive safely, wasting fuel and freight costs as well as other packaging materials.
This is just one way that it can help out the environment.
As long as you do not intend to throw your bubble wrap into a landfill, it is also perfectly safe for the environment. It is fully recyclable and can be used to make new products, including items like plastic fencing, decking, and various types of furniture.
Even if you do not ever make it to the store to recycle your bubble wrap, you can use it again and again as long as you do not pop the air bubbles. This gives it a long lifespan that far surpasses many other items, saving you money on your shipping supplies.
It is good for both the environment and your wallet when you can reuse your bubble wrap time and again.
Are Amazon’s Bubble Wrap Envelopes Recyclable?
Many people are drawn to Amazon for their everyday low prices and convenient home shipping.
You’ve probably once ordered a book or two in the past only to have it show up in one of the standard light blue and white bubble mailers that Amazon is known for. Fortunately, you can find out what to do with these types of envelopes relatively quickly!
Unlike other companies that make it hard to figure out what to do with their packaging materials, Amazon posts the recycling instructions in clear print. These bubble wrap envelopes are recyclable.
If your city allows for the plastic film to be accepted, then you may place them in your curbside bin. However, this is a relatively rare occurrence.
If your town does not allow plastic films in the blue curbside recycling bin, then you need to discard these mailers wherever you take your other plastic bags.
This can include the kiosks set up at major retailers like Target and Walmart.
7 Creative Ways You Can Reuse Bubble Wrap:
Recycling your bubble wrap is one reliable way to make sure you are doing your part for the environment.
However, you can also reuse bubble wrap to extend its lifespan first. Many people find plenty of creative ways to use their bubble wrap before tossing it in with their plastic bags to recycle it.
Take a look at some of these top uses for leftover bubble wrap:
1. Keep Food Hot or Cold
Do you have a long trip from the grocery store back to your house? Maybe you are taking a dish to a friend’s house for a Sunday morning brunch?
When you have to travel with hot and cold foods, you run the risk that your items will lose their temperature during transit. Bubble wrap can help reduce the odds of this happening.
Take your reusable shopping bags and line them with bubble wrap on the sides and bottom. The air pockets help to keep your food at its current temperature for longer.
This is a great way to create a makeshift cooler for your beverages if you can’t seem to find yours.
2. Insulate Plants
During the harsh winter months, your sensitive plants may need to be protected from cold weather, high winds, and even frost.
Bubble wrap can help to insulate plants to shield them from icy conditions.
Simply wrap your plant thoroughly in bubble wrap during the day to trap in warm air and keep the plant at a steady temperature through the night when the frost sets in.
3. Stress Relief
While it may render your bubble wrap useless for other purposes, stress relief is one great way to make good use of it.
After a long day, unwind in the bathtub and spend some time popping bubbles one by one. Even kids often enjoy this simple activity, and it is far better than some ways of coping with anger and stress.
You might want to keep a few sheets of bubble wrap handy at all times, just for this very reason.
Remember to recycle your bubble wrap properly whenever you are finished with it.
4. Save on Your Heating Bill
Because bubble wrap is so great at insulating things, you might want to put it to work on your house.
You can save on your heating bill by bubble wrapping the windows in your home during the winter months. Simply tape the sheet to the inside of your window, making sure to cover any leaking or drafty areas.
It may even be cheaper than the regular plastic film that is often used for the same purpose.
5. Cover Your Compost
If you are big into recycling and composting, then you might want to pay attention to this next nifty trick.
Bubble wrap can be used to cover your compost pile to help promote decomposition. By insulating the pile this way, you can break down those eggshells and other organic matter faster than ever before.
It also helps to keep unwanted items out of your piles, such as falling debris and unwanted critters.
6. Knee Pads
Whether you are working on a home project or a garden project, you might want to hear this next tip.
Avoid spending money on knee pads at the local home improvement store. These can sometimes be uncomfortable to wear and quite expensive. On the other hand, bubble wrap is inexpensive and relatively flexible so that you can comfortably move around.
Secure it to your knees using packaging tape or duct tape on your jeans.
This should help you to kneel comfortably for hours.
7. Cover Tools & Handles
Do you have a lot of raking or shoveling to do? Handling these items in your yard can prove troublesome for two reasons.
First, it can be difficult to grip the handle for long periods. Second, it can cause large blisters that are incredibly painful for you. Bubble wrap can help with both issues.
Bubble wrap encourages a better grip on the handles and cuts down on the number of blisters that you will leave with at the end of the day.
Consider using your leftover plastic to help you keep the earth nice and clean!
Maria is the founder of GoDownsize. While studying architecture in Denmark she became fascinated with designing living spaces for boats, tiny houses, RVs, and other small spaces.
She mainly writes about space optimization, interior design, and downsizing. She’s also in charge of our YouTube channel. Read more about Maria here.