Bubble wrap disposal and recycling

Whether you’re delivering fragile packages to clients or have spent lockdown doing more online shopping than ever before – you’ve likely seen a lot of bubble wrap in your time. In fact, the product sells in its millions each year. However, with many environmental initiatives aiming to reduce our use of plastic products – it’s clear that we need to think seriously about how we dispose of bubble wrap after use (and after a bit of therapeutic popping).

Bubble Wrap disposal and recycling

What type of waste is Bubble Wrap?

Bubble wrap is made from LDPE (Low-density Polyethylene), meaning that it is a form of plastic waste. Other products made from the same materials include clingfilm, sandwich bags and frozen food packaging.

Who invented Bubble Wrap?

Believe it or not, Bubble Wrap was invented by accident. Designed by Alfred Fielding and chemist March Chavannes, the pair were trying to make textured wallpaper by sealing together two thin shower curtains. They were initially disappointed in the product – which did not create stylish wallpaper but instead a thin plastic sheet full of air bubbles. However, they sought to find alternative uses for the product – initially deciding to market Bubble Wrap as a form of insulation to be used in greenhouses. In fact, it was not until 1960 (three years after its invention) that they decided to use the product as protective packaging.

What is Bubble Wrap made from, and how are they made?

What materials are Bubble Wrap made from?

Bubble wrap is made from LDPE. It is typically formed from tiny beads of resin.

How is Bubble Wrap made?

The process of making bubble wrap is relatively straightforward. To begin with, the resin beads are gradually heated until they combine into a thin film. This film is rolled until it is flat, and small holes are made throughout the film at regular intervals. A vacuum is then used to fill the holes with air, creating ‘bubbles’.

Bubble Wrap disposal

How to dispose of Bubble Wrap.

One of the biggest misconceptions surrounding Bubble Wrap is the idea that it cannot be recycled. This myth likely stems from the fact that LDPE can be difficult to recycle because soft films such as Bubble Wrap can occasionally clog machinery. However, thanks to advances in technology, it’s easier than ever to dispose of Bubble Wrap -you must simply ensure that you send your waste to the appropriate recycling centre after use.

Next steps

What happens to Bubble Wrap after it has been put in the bin?

If sent to a landfill site, it’s estimated that Bubble Wrap could take between 10-1,000 years to decompose naturally. However, Bubble Wrap can be recycled through a closed-loop recycling process.

Specialist machinery is used to recycle Bubble Wrap. This machine breaks LDPE into smaller pieces, which are then compounded and turned into pellets. These pellets can then be used to create a wide range of plastic products, such as bin bags, furniture, flooring and even pipes used in construction and manufacturing.

What are some eco-friendly alternatives?

While there are many benefits to using Bubble Wrap when it comes to packaging, there are plenty of eco-friendly alternatives out there that you may want to consider. This includes:

    Packing Paper
    Old/Disused fabric
    Shredded Paper or Card
    Recycled Bubble Wrap
    Compostable products
    Starch-based packing peanuts.

Can you do anything with Bubble Wrap instead of throwing it away?

While Bubble Wrap can be recycled, you may also want to consider reusing it before throwing it away. This will help to give your products a much longer life. You could use Bubble Wrap:

    As home/garden insulation.
    To store fragile items in your homes, such as glasses or ornaments.
    As an overnight cover for your car’s windows, prevent the build-up of frost or sleet.

What are the costs associated with recycling and disposing of Bubble Wrap?

If you take your Bubble Wrap waste to a landfill site, you will be expected to pay the appropriate Landfill tax. However, there are much more cost-effective (and eco-friendly) options available. For example, if you choose to work alongside Business Waste, we can ensure that all of your waste – including Bubble Wrap – is diverted away from landfills and towards the appropriate recycling facility. Not to mention we’ll collect and dispose of your waste for an incredibly competitive price – especially when you consider the fact we give you free access to all of the bins and storage containers you’ll need.

How much Bubble Wrap is there?

240,000 miles of Bubble Wrap is produced annually throughout the world.
Just one of the UK’s leading Bubble Wrap manufacturers produces enough Bubble Wrap each year to wrap the earth ten times.

How much Bubble Wrap is sent to Landfill?

According to a recent study, despite the fact that LDPE products are recyclable, as little as 5% of these products are recycled. As a result, a vast majority of bubble wrap is mistakenly sent to landfill sites.

Facts about Bubble Wrap.

Do you ever feel less stressed after popping Bubble Wrap? Well, there’s a reason for it! In 1992, a study was carried out by psychologist Kathleen Dillon that found that subjects felt more relaxed and less tired after spending time popping Bubble Wrap.

LDPE products can take up to 1,000 years to decompose naturally.

Where can you take Bubble Wrap to recycle/dispose of it for free?

Due to the difficulties associated with recycling Bubble Wrap, it cannot be disposed of alongside the rest of your recyclables. However, there are various ways in which you can dispose of this waste free of charge. For example, you can drop them off at a local recycling centre. Furthemore, many supermarkets have specialist bins set up to collect and store LDPE products such as Bubble Wrap. A quick google will let you know which stores in your area offer these services.

What would you like to learn about next?

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