Ecofriendly Alternatives to Bubble Wrap
Here’s a little bit of a fun fact - Alfred Fielding and Marc Chavannes invented bubble wrap when they found a way to seal pockets of air in between two plastic shower curtains to create a three-dimensional pattern of tiny bubbles. At the time, they envisioned it would become the next trend in wallpaper styles!
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 only. It is difficult to recycle. And finally, it 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 out there. Don't be misled! Many of these options are either not biodegradable at all (as claims around biodegradability are not well regulated) or are in fact what is called "oxo-biodegradable", which essentially means an additive is incorporated into the plastic to help is break down if it ends up as litter. This process is extremely (and some argue - deliberately) misleading and actually 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 here.
So what is an eco-loving, sustainable ecommerce business that ships fragile items to do?
Here are 3 eco-friendly bubble wrap alternatives:
- Corrugated Bubble
- Indented Kraft Paper
An EcoEnclose exclusive! Corrugated bubble is made from shredded corrugated, typically made out of the unusable portion of our corrugated sheets after they are cut into shipping boxes. So, not only is our Corrugated Bubble 100% recycled (95% post-consumer!), recyclable and compostable, it is also upcycled!
As shown in this video, corrugated bubble can be used in several ways.
Create a nest or a ball: Stretch the corrugated bubble out and then crumple it up to make “corrugated nests” to be used as void fill or cushioning under your product.
Wrap your products: Order appropriately sized Corrugated Bubble and wrap your fragile products in it before placing inside your box.
Lining the bottom and top of your box: Order bubble that fits your box perfectly and use it as a soft pad to line the bottom or top of your box (or both!).
GreenWrap is a spectacular option when you need the molding and protection of traditional bubble wrap, but want something far more sustainable (read: made with SFI certified materials and fully recyclable and biodegradable) and beautiful.
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, giving it a cushion and a unique texture and look. 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.
Many companies wrap their products individually in GreenWrap (as you would with bubble wrap). As you can see from the above video, its a beautiful finish! Some companies use GreenWrap more as a filler, lining their boxes with it to create a cushion or nest that they can place products in.
Indented Kraft Paper
Indented kraft paper 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. As such, it you are wrapping something that needs a small level of cushioning (such as lightweight 1 or 2oz glass bottles of essential oils), indented kraft paper can be a great option.