Eco-friendly Alternative to Bubble Wrap? Try Shredded Cardboard!

Eco-friendly Alternative to Bubble Wrap? Try Shredded Cardboard!

, by Maeve Reidy, 5 min reading time

More and more people are aware of just how bad plastics can be for the environment. Never mind how many decades (yes, really!) it takes to degrade, its petroleum content can have devastating consequences to animals and the natural world. For many years, we've been conditioned to assume that to fill voids in packaging (or voidfill, as it is known) you need plastic bubble wrap or plastic packing beans. But come on! It's the 21st Century! And there are alternatives that are waaay more eco-friendly!

More and more people are aware of just how bad plastics can be for the environment. Never mind how many decades (yes, really!) it takes to degrade, its petroleum content can have devastating consequences to animals and the natural world.

For many years, we've been conditioned to assume that to fill voids in packaging (or voidfill, as it is known) you need plastic bubble wrap or plastic packing beans.

But come on! It's the 21st Century! And there are alternatives that are waaay more eco-friendly!

What is Bubble Wrap?

Bubble wrap is a transparent, flexible, and elastic packaging material made of plastic. Air bubbles are incorporated into the plastic foil, which serves as cushioning, to protect fragile objects during transport.

Bubble wrap is one of the most used packaging materials in the world. The material was created (by accident) in 1957 by two engineers, Alfred Fielding and Marc Chavannas. Believe it or not, it was originally intended as a type of insulated wallpaper (central heating wasn't what it is, back then!) but it quickly became apparent that using it for voidfill and cushioning of products during transportation was a better idea.

The main advantages are that bubble wrap is light, easy to use, and protects fragile items. The downsides are that the material takes up space, it is costly to transport because of the air pockets, and the material is difficult to recycle.

man using bubble wrap

But Bubble Wrap is Recyclable, isn't it?

Yes, every plastic is recyclable because it is made of petroleum. But the challenge is that each type of plastic needs to be separated into a single stream in order to recycle it properly, and this also applies to bubble wrap.

The type of plastic that is used for making bubble wrap is a low-density polyethylene film (LDPF). And this material cannot be accepted in your recycling bin - the plastic film can contaminate other recyclable items at the Recycling Centre because the film can tangle with other recycling items. This makes it difficult for recycling companies to separate bubble wrap from other recyclable materials. There is also the problem that bubble wrap can jam machinery used at the Recycling Centre.

An Alternative to Bubble Wrap

Unfortunately for many businesses, bubble wrap is an out-of-sight waste problem. Businesses are happy that their product is protected during transportation but do not realise that it is now their customer who has to contend with disposing of the bubble wrap in a responsible manner. And will customers keep purchasing from businesses that continue to send them metres and metres of bubble wrap that take up space in their wheelie bin?!

There are green alternatives to bubble wrap that are more sustainable and less impactful to nature. Common eco-friendly alternatives are, for instance, paper bubble wrap that is made of FSC certified material, or biodegradable bubble wrap. The problem with these sustainable alternatives is that they are often more expensive and therefore make shipping costs more expensive.

Cardboard, however, is a natural material made from wood fibres, making it 100% recyclable. This material is a perfect sustainable substitute for bubble wrap packaging. But how can scrap cardboard be used as bubble wrap?

At Box Depot, you can purchase boxes of shredded cardboard. Although we sell once-used cardboard boxes, sometimes there are cardboard boxes that are a bit too "used" to be of any practical use! These boxes are shredded into strips, producing a fantastic voidfill product that is extremely protective and eco-friendly as well!

shredded cardboard

 

Depending on the products they ship out, a business can purchase a Cardboard Shredder to create either shredded cardboard or cardboard matting.

The main advantage of using shredded cardboard is that the material is environmentally friendly, and reduces the cost of waste transportation and packaging materials. It also makes it easier for your customer to discard the packaging material since both the box and the padding are made of one type of material.

When you sell products, there is a good chance that you already have a lot of cardboard waste. So why not reuse this material as packaging material with the use of a Cardboard Shredder for the shipment of your products? Using cardboard as packaging also boosts your company’s sustainable image. Consumers are increasingly in demand for sustainable packaging and do really appreciate it when they receive a product that is free from unnecessary plastic packaging.

By 2021, two-thirds of consumers considered it important that products they bought were in sustainable packaging. More than half take sustainable packaging into consideration even before they decide to purchase from a particular company ...

If you are a business, why not make make eco-friendly sustainable packaging voidfill from your own waste cardboard? Many companies in Ireland have already purchased a Cardboard Shredder to convert their waste cardboard into basically free packaging material! Why not contact us to find out how you can join them?!

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