Easy Methods to Quickly Dispose or Recycle Packaging & Shipping Products

Answers to Typically Asked Questions About the Disposal of Packaging (Both Cold Chain Packaging and Standard Packaging)

According to research firm Statistica, In the United States, food and beverage retail e-commerce revenue will exceed 20 billion U.S. dollars in 2021 and is expected to surpass the 24 billion threshold by 2023. The online grocery customer base counts roughly 150 million shoppers and is forecast to grow further in the upcoming years.

And it’s not just groceries people are buying. From clothes to cars, food to pharmaceuticals, people worldwide are making this change faster than ever.

While this is highly convenient, it is not as environmentally friendly in many cases because every package on your doorstep often arrives in packaging.

Most people know cardboard can be recycled. Still, many other materials may come in the mail via coolers and gel packs for temperature-sensitive items, plastic packing bubble wrap, or even styrofoam peanuts. With that in mind, we get questions about how to reuse or dispose of these materials in the most environmentally friendly way and what we, as a packaging company, are doing to change how products are shipped.

Let’s take a minute to review this handy guide that outlines the most popular packaging elements and how you can safely recycle or reuse them. Together we can shrink our carbon footprint, which can help make home delivery more sustainable.

Methods to Dispose of Different Packaging Products

Cardboard Boxes

The most popular packaging is cardboard. In fact, cardboard production is forecast to increase to more than 72 million tons by 2022. This would be an increase of more than 25 percent compared with cardboard production in 2015.

If you don’t find you can reuse the box, the best way to recycle cardboard boxes is by breaking down the box first so that it fits flat into the bin and is easy to transport.

An extra tip, keep the lid on your recycling bin closed as much as possible (even if that last box is pushing the limit) because cardboard jams a lot of standard machines used at recycling facilities, which is counterproductive.

EPS Coolers

EPS coolers (aka styrofoam coolers) are the most widely used packaging insulator used to keep temperature-sensitive items cool during transport, but the problem with EPS packaging is that it is not typically considered biodegradable or recyclable in most instances. Therefore, the only choice you have is to toss it in the dumpster or figure out a clever way to repurpose it by making planters or something similar. 

However, EPS coolers from TempAid are revolutionizing the industry with biodegradable solutions infused with a unique resin additive that helps break down the cooler into inert humus, carbon dioxide, and methane. Therefore, while they still will end up at a landfill, they will biodegrade and turn back into the soil.

Bubble Wrap

About 240,000 miles of bubble wrap is produced annually, and while the amount is staggering considering its environmental implications, bubble wrap is big business, with an estimated $10.73 billion dollars estimated to be sold in 2023.

Bubble wrap is tricky because it cannot go into the standard recycling bin as very few recycling facilities that accept plastic will accept bubble wrap due to its tendency to jam sorting machines. The bad news is that plastic bubble wrap takes 10-1,000 years to decompose once it’s in the landfill.

There are, however, designated locations where you can drop off bubble wrap along with plastic grocery bags. Our advice is to use one of the plastic shopping bags to collect all of your bubble wrap and shopping bags together, and once a suitable amount has built up, take a quick drive to the recycling spot.

If you are looking for a recycling location the ”Drop off Directory” is a good place to start: https://bagandfilmrecycling.org/ or https://earth911.com/

Note that some stores have temporarily halted the collection of plastic bags and wraps due to the Covid pandemic,but it is worth it to collect your bags/wraps at home until events change.

Of course reusing it is the most eco-friendly option because even recycling bubble wrap uses more energy than simply storing it away and using it for a different purpose within your own home.

If you are shipping products, there are several alternatives to bubble wrap (and shipping peanuts as well). Wadded up newspaper, Kraft paper, corn-starch-based styrofoam peanuts, and wadded cardboard/paper are more eco-friendly alternatives.

There are different ways to reuse bubble wrap, including but not limited to insulating potted plants to keep them from freezing and regifting using your existing packaging materials.

Ice Packs and Gel Packs

As a major manufacturer of gel packs for the life sciences industry, disposal is the number one question asked of our sales team. We developed this blog about gel pack disposal some time ago which will answer some questions, but below are a few additional notes

Gel pack comes in all shapes and sizes; durable, leak-proof, single-use, water blankets, hard bottle, and more. it does not matter; most are reusable and several are recyclable. Most are made from non-toxic, food-safe material that can stay cold for much longer than traditional ice.

The outer bag is generally recyclable, but first, you need to allow the pack to thaw out entirely so you can cut a slice and drain the gel into the trash. Once the gel is gone, you can recycle the plastic around it.

Drain-Safe Gel Packs

Drain-safe gel packs are another excellent packaging alternative that is simple to recycle. The recycling process looks the same as the traditional gel pack, but instead of trashing the gel inside, you can simply tear it open and  pour it into a toilet or a sink. You can also dump it into your garden. The gel inside is entirely safe for the environment, making proper disposal and recycling even more accessible.

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We are always concerned about the environment and are constantly innovating to ensure we can produce sustainable packaging that doesn’t cause harm to the environment. If you need a quote or want to speak to one of the representatives please contact us, we are always happy to help.