Finding an Alternative to Bubble Wrap®
We can't deny the joy that bubble wrap® brought us as children. Laying it out and jumping all over it. Or scrunching it up in a ball. Anything to get that satisfying and fun pop. But we were young and naïve then. We didn't realize how terrible this material was for the environment.
- Bubble wrap® is not available with much - if any - recycled content. Recycled options that exist typically have less than 20% of post-industrial waste.
- Bubble wrap® is difficult to recycle.
- Bubble wrap® cannot be stored in compacted form unless you have an expensive "bubbling machine" in house, so it is expensive and carbon intensive to get it delivered to you and to store.
You might see "biodegradable" options on the market. Many of these options are either not biodegradable at all (as claims around biodegradability are not well regulated) or are what is called "oxo-biodegradable", which essentially means an additive is incorporated into the plastic to help it break down if it ends up as litter. This process is extremely misleading and counterproductive to the challenges of marine plastic pollution as it leads to higher and faster levels of micro-plastic in the ocean. Read more about the Sustainable Packaging Coalitions stance against oxo-biodegradable plastic.
So what is an eco-loving, sustainable eCommerce business that ships fragile items to do? Shop EcoEnclose's four eco-friendly alternatives to bubble wrap® below and learn more about protective packaging in our Definitive Guide to Protective Packaging and Void Fill.
What It Is: A plastic-free alternative to bubble wrap®. Made from shredded corrugated sheets (available in 1/4", 1/2" and 3/4" thicknesses), typically made out of the unusable portion of our corrugated sheets after they are cut into shipping boxes.
Eco-Features: 100% recycled, 95% post-consumer waste, upcycled from unusable portions of our corrugated sheets, curbside recyclable, and naturally biodegradable.
Great For: Companies that ship fragile items or items that may be subject to edge crush. Note that this product may bring a small amount of corrugated dust with it. Corrugated Bubble can be used in several ways:
- Create a ball: Stretch the Corrugated Bubble and crumple it up to make “corrugated nests” to use as cushioning under your product.
- Wrap your products: Wrap your fragile products in appropriately-sized Corrugated Bubble before placing them inside your box.
- Line your box: Order Corrugated Bubble that fits your box perfectly and use it as a soft pad to line the bottom or top of your box.
- Watch and learn: For more detailed instructions, check out the Void Fill and Green Wrap section of our video tutorials page.
What It Is: Die cut honeycomb paper that ships flat and is expanded through a dispenser. GreenWrap has two layers, a white tissue paper/liner layer and an outer layer that comes in a brown or white option. The dispenser (which is built into the box the GreenWrap ships in) is used to expand the outer layer of the GreenWrap, to create cushioning that can be molded around products for protection and presentation. When you expand GreenWrap fully, you should get at least 1/4" of paper-based protection, and like traditional bubble wrap®, you can always wrap your items more than once for double protection.
Eco-Features: Certified sustainable sourced virgin paper, curbside recyclable, and naturally biodegradable.
Great For: Glass bottles, pottery, art pieces, candles, glassware, books that may be subject to edge crush concerns, and more. GreenWrap work really well for companies who sell a variety of fragile goods, all of which are differently sized, that need individual wrapping and protection.
- Create a ball: Stretch the GreenWrap and crumple it up to make a nests to use as cushioning under your product.
- Wrap your products: Wrap your fragile products in GreenWrap before placing them inside your box.
- Line your box: Create a cushion and use it as a soft pad to line the bottom or top of your box.
- Watch & Learn: For more detailed instructions, check out the Void Fill and Green Wrap section of our video tutorials page.
Did You Know? If your company goes through 20+ cases of GreenWrap each year, consider a refillable dispenser instead. Learn more.
Indented Kraft Paper
What It is: Indented Kraft Paper (one of our Packaging Paper options) has ridges and bumps across it, adding texture and a small amount of cushioning. It is one of our stronger and sturdier packaging paper options. It offers solid protection, but not quite the level of cushioning as GreenWrap and traditional bubble wrap®. On the other hand, it is operationally simpler than GreenWrap.
Eco-Features: 100% recycled, 30% post-consumer waste, curbside recyclable, and naturally biodegradable.
Great For: Items that require a small level of cushioning (such as lightweight 1 or 2oz glass bottles of essential oils).
Flexi-Hex Air Sleeve
What It Is: Lightweight honeycomb sleeves that ship flat and expand to be wrapped around fragile items. The innovative hexagonal cell structure not only provides incredible strength to protect fragile products in transit, but it also creates a sleeve that is extremely flexible. Compact to store and lightweight for economical shipping, when fitted around an object the sleeve expands open and takes on the form of the product within. It is packaging that looks delicate but is simultaneously strong.
Eco-Features: Certified sustainably sourced fiber, made with at least 76% recycled content, curbside recyclable and naturally biodegradable.
Great For: Glass bottles, candles, glassware, dishware, and more. Flexi-Hex is a great solution for companies that sell consistently sized items that each need individual wrapping and protection. Flexi-Hex is more operationally efficient than GreenWrap; however, the existing sizes must work for your business. Additionally, it does not provide top and bottom product protection, so consider adding one of the below cushioning or void fill options.