Is Bubble Wrap Recyclable? The Answer Might Surprise You
Recycling bubble wrap isn't easy and will require some extra effort on your part. Learn how to go about it correctly to keep waste out of landfills.
Bubble wrap has its perks. It keeps your breakables safe in transit during moves, and the air-filled pockets are an immensely satisfying way to relieve stress. But once the popping spree is over, we're often left with a dilemma: Is bubble wrap recyclable? The answer isn't as straightforward as you might think.
Is Bubble Wrap Recyclable?
Bubble wrap is made of polyethylene, which is also used to make two other hard-to-recycle materials: plastic bags and plastic wrap/saran wrap. Because of its makeup, bubble wrap isn't something you can toss in your curbside recycling bin, as it can clog machinery during the recycling process. If it damages the recycling machinery, that's not only a costly problem—it's also one that takes time to fix (and puts workers at risk of getting injured in the process).
So, to answer your question: Yes, bubble wrap is recyclable, but it isn't easy to recycle and will require some effort on your part, including popping all the bubbles and taking it to a drop-off location. Read on to learn how to recycle bubble wrap properly.
How to Recycle Bubble Wrap
Instead of being put in your curbside recycling bin, you'll need to take bubble wrap to a special drop-off location to be recycled with other plastic films (think the aforementioned plastic grocery bags and plastic wrap). You can usually find a location on your city's waste management website. In addition, many chain stores—like Target and Walmart—have guest recycling stations at the front of the stores that are available for drop-offs.
Once you've scouted out your drop-off location, first pop all the bubbles (aka the fun part!) in the bubble wrap. Then simply bring the bubble wrap in with you during your next grocery run, or drop it off at another spot in your city while you're already out and about running errands.
Once your bubble wrap is dropped off at a bin, that bin is sent to a special facility that's able to handle recycling that type of material. If you're unable to find a drop-off location near you, don't fret—there are other ways to put bubble wrap to use that will keep it out of the landfill.
Creative Ways to Use Bubble Wrap
The next time you come across a sheet of bubble wrap, think twice before tossing it out. With a dash of creativity and resourcefulness, you'll find this unassuming packing material has a lot more to offer than a moment's worth of popping fun.
Did you know that bubble wrap can be an effective insulator? By simply attaching it to your windows, you can reduce heat loss in winter or keep your home cooler in the summer. The trapped air in the bubbles works as an excellent barrier against temperature extremes. It's recycling with a practical twist!
2. Protective Layer for Plants
Bubble wrap can be a gardener's best friend. Wrap it around your delicate plants to shield them from harsh weather. It can help maintain the temperature, warding off frost in the colder months, and provide some shade during those scorching summer days. It's like a personal DIY greenhouse for your plants.
3. Art and Craft Material
For the creatively inclined, bubble wrap offers endless opportunities. Use it as a stamp to create unique patterns on paper or fabric, or even cut shapes from it for three-dimensional art projects. It's amazing how this ordinary packing material can be transformed into extraordinary art.
4. Packing Materials
Have a move coming up, or know someone who does? Collect bubble wrap to use for packing those delicate items. It's a great way to protect your valuable stuff. Once the move is complete, save it in a box for the future—whether that's another move, or any of the ideas above. You never know when creativity will strike.
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