What Is Bubble Wrap?
Bubble wrap is made from Low Density Polyethylene film (LDPE) which can be identified for recycling by Resin Code 4. Originally invented in 1957 by Alfred Fielding and Marc Chavannes, it is now one of the most popular packaging materials in use today.
The bubble film is first made by melting down a variety of pellets and resin beads. The mixture is made from a combination of beads, which includes nylon for strength, and plexar for adhesion. The remaining beads are then used to form the film. These beads are combined and melted using an extruder which operates at between 450 and 512˚C. Once these have combines, they are then run through a set of rollers to reach the desired thickness. From here, the film is then pushed through a specialised cylinder that features a set of uniform holes which the film is then vacuumed into in order to trap the air between the two layers. From here, the film is then pushed through another set of rollers to cool and form a bond, before being cut to size and perforated for easy use.
How Do I Recycle Bubble Wrap?
Contrary to popular belief, bubble wrap is 100% recyclable as it is made from strong LDPE film. Most household recycling programmes now accept this material with normal waste collections, however, this is entirely dependant on your local council (you can check whether your council accepts bubble wrap via the RecycleNow website, or through the council website). Regardless of your local council, bubble wrap can be recycled alongside plastic carrier bags and film at supermarket and other specialist collection points.
What About Biodegradable Bubble Wrap?
Many believe that Biodegradable Bubble Wrap is a more environmentally friendly alternative, but this is entirely dependant upon the conditions in which they are left to degrade. Biodegradable products are sent to landfill alongside tradition waste, however, if they are not exposed to the correct conditions (carbon dioxide, water, and microogranisms) in landfill, they cannot degrade, and will remain in the environment. This being said, if they are being sent to a facility where they will be exposed to the correct conditions , or are sent to a specialist facility, then biodegradable bubble wrap will be completely broken down by microoganisms and bacteria.
It is also important to note that bubble wrap is either biodegradable or recyclable, and cannot be both. This is because the additives that encourage the degradation of the bubble wrap cause significant issues in the recycling process.
What Bubble Wrap Alternatives Are Available?
For an environmentally friendly alternative, our best option is our Paper Bubble Wrap, which is both fully fully recyclable, and can be broken down and composted. This paper bubble wrap is made with recycled fibres, and the embossed bubble pattern helps to protect goods in transit in the same way that traditional bubble wrap does.