Since its invention in 1957, bubble wrap has been the trusty go-to option to bundle up fragile items safely on the road. It's secure and easy to use, and it's fun to pop the bubbles at the other end of the journey! The downside is that - similarly to other fragile packaging options like styrofoam - it isn't easily recyclable for the average consumer. Solutions such as these have kept millions of items safe over the years, but are there eco-friendly alternatives that could do the same job?
The best alternatives to bubble wrap and styrofoam
The truth is, there are plenty of eco-friendly alternatives to bubble wrap and styrofoam that can keep your items just as safe as plastic could, with the added benefit of being aesthetically pleasing and fun to handle.
The most important quality of packaging for fragile objects is the ability to fill the spaces between an item and the box. You'll also want to make sure that your packaging is able to cushion your products and soften the impact of any knocks it might take in transit.
Wood wool for packaging hampers and gifts
Wood wool is a fantastic eco-friendly alternative to styrofoam void fill, easy to mold around the shape of an item to protect it in the box. It's also aesthetically pleasing, and works well for both protecting and displaying gifts and items in clear or clear-lidded boxes. Wood wool is great for boxing up items that should be complimented by their packaging, such as artisan soaps, luxury treats, wine bottles and gifts. It's also a wonderful option for hampers!
Wood wool is usually made from pine wood, shredded thinly and then dried to produce bundles of insulating material. It can be used to regulate the temperature of products as well as to cushion them, making it great for surrounding food items in hampers and boxes. It also dries easily and doesn't lose any structural integrity if it gets wet, ideal if your products are shipped in bad weather!
Shredded cardboard for cushioning fragile products
If you're shipping something as fragile and breakable as glass or pottery, you'll naturally have misgivings about using alternatives to the tried and true methods of styrofoam and bubble wrap. Luckily, cardboard is one of the most trustworthy packaging materials there are! Shredded cardboard can be used for a number of purposes, but namely to create a snug, cushioning layer for fragile products in the box.
Cardboard is a versatile material, coming in a variety of strengths and thicknesses. Shredded cardboard tends to be a thick, corrugated cardboard to offer the best protection possible to packaged items. Like wood wool, shredded cardboard works by filling the spaces between your product and the box, mitigating the effects any knocks or bumps will have by absorbing the shockwaves. Self-evidently, shredded cardboard is simple to make and easy to produce from recycled materials - and it remains recyclable and biodegradable after use, too! It has very little effect on the environment and is a completely eco-friendly option for companies looking to focus on reducing their carbon footprint.
Corrugated cardboard sheets for wrapping items
Corrugated cardboard doesn't have to be shredded to be used as cushioning - if you prefer the way bubble wrap holds around your products, corrugated cardboard sheets are a perfect alternative to wrap up your items. It can be used alongside void fillers such as wood wool and shredded cardboard for extra protection.
Corrugation is a structural term that refers to a sheet of material bent into a wavelike pattern. It pushes two surfaces away from each other, creating layers in between to allow air flow and enough space for impact to dissipate. This provides both thermal insulation and cushioning for packaged items. Cardboard can be safely recycled or disposed of after use with little to no effect on the environment, making it a great alternative to bubble wrap.
If you're reading this, you're probably looking to make the switch to sustainable and recyclable packaging for your company. Hopefully this list has helped you decide which packaging is best for you! For more ideas and information about eco-friendly packaging, check out our blog here.