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Is Bubble Wrap Recyclable? How to Properly Dispose Of It

Bubble wrap

Every kid (and adult!) knows the joys of unwrapping a new and fragile package and finding a sheet of bubble wrap stuffed in the box. While everyone loves playing with bubble wrap, the part that comes afterward—disposing of it—is the problem. No matter how strong the urge to throw bubble wrap in the trash is, try to avoid doing so. While some facilities will accept bubble wrap for recycling, most facilities do not allow it. The reason behind this is the lightweight structure of the bubble wrap, which can cause damage to the recycling machines.

To learn more about why bubble wrap is not as suitable for recycling as other plastic items, read the article below. You will also find an explanation of how to properly deal with bubble wrap and dispose of it without causing any harm to the environment.

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What is Bubble Wrap Made Of?

As you may have thought, bubble wrap is made entirely of plastic, particularly the number four category of plastics. You can find this type of plastic in many other everyday items, such as grocery bags, plastic film, shopping bags, polyethylene foam, and plastic wrap. The plastic used for these items, including bubble wrap, is called low-density polyethylene, or LDPE. This may be considered an outdated method for packing delicate and fragile items, as many alternative and eco-friendly options are available today.

Bubble wrap
Image By: Davie Bicker, Pixabay

Can You Recycle Bubble Wrap?

While recycling bubble wrap is possible in some countries (check with your local recycling center to see if they accept bubble wrap), there are other ways to dispose of bubble wrap properly. You can reuse bubble wrap when storing items for insulation, packing, and DIY projects. Most facilities won’t allow bubble wrap to enter the recycling process, and the reason for that is its lightweight structure. Lightweight plastic materials such as bubble wrap tend to clog the recycling machinery and cause damage. This can cause delays in the recycling process or even cost additional money to fix.

Unless your facility accepts bubble wrap openly, it would be wise to avoid putting it in the recycling bin. Since plastic is such an environmentally unfriendly material, it’s always wiser to avoid it together and choose an alternative option when possible. The best eco-friendly alternative to bubble wrap is biodegradable packing peanuts.

How to Properly Dispose of Bubble Wrap

If you are like most people, you’ve probably ordered a package at least once in your lifetime. If that’s the case, you’ve probably noticed bubble wrap added to the package for additional safety. One of the most common ways of disposing of bubble wrap is by reusing or repurposing it. You can reuse it for storing certain items safely or reuse it when shipping a package yourself. Many fun DIY projects utilize bubble wrap and many art pieces or decor can be made this way.

If you can’t find any useful ways to repurpose old bubble wraps, you may ask around, and you’ll surely find a friend in need. Throwing bubble wrap in the trash bag won’t be the end of the world, but this decision should be your last resort.

Image By: agencies, Shutterstock

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Final Thoughts

While bubble wrap is an amazing invention that saved many fragile ceramic and glass bowls from shattering, it has some flaws, such as not being biodegradable. While this issue is significant, the bigger problem is that bubble wrap is unsuitable for recycling due to its delicate nature. Never just throw bubble wrap into your recycling as it will likely just end up in a landfill—unless of course your local recycling center does in fact accept bubble wrap.

Featured Image Credit: Pete Linforth, Pixabay


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