Are My Packing Peanuts Biodegradable?

No matter what your business is shipping or receiving, packing peanuts and other loose-fill are a tried-and-true way to protect the cargo.

However, as many businesses make efforts to reduce their environmental impact, shipping supplies, packing peanuts, and other protective fillings are at the top of the list to be upgraded. Thus, many businesses are switching to biodegradable packing peanuts.

But what does that mean, exactly? And, more importantly, do you know how to tell if packing peanuts are biodegradable?

Non-biodegradable Packing Peanuts vs. Biodegradable Packing Peanut Materials

Traditional packing peanuts are made of are polystyrene, more commonly known as Styrofoam, while biodegradable packing peanuts are made of natural materials like wheat and corn starch.

Polystyrene packing peanuts do not break down once discarded and can spend years in landfills, lakes, oceans, and waterways.

In fact, some experts say it could take 500 years for traditional packing peanuts to decompose.

Recycling options for polystyrene packing peanuts are extremely limited as the Styrofoam can only be repurposed back into itself, or a similar material.

The organic materials found in biodegradable packing peanuts allow the loose-fill to breakdown or decompose once discarded.

Decomposing makes them significantly better for the environment compared to traditional packing peanuts.

How to Tell if Packing Peanuts are Biodegradable

Packing peanuts can come in a variety of colors, and if it’s plant-based the pellets can be a variety of shades, including tan and green.

Traditional packing peanuts are usually white or pink.

A simple sight test might be enough to determine if the product can be recycled. But there is a sure-fire way to determine if the pellets are environmentally safe.  

Running water over packing peanuts is the easiest way to determine if they are biodegradable. Biodegradable packing peanuts dissolve in water as the organic compounds will begin to breakdown.

It only takes a few minutes for the pellets to completely dissolve.

Whereas traditional polystyrene packing peanuts will remain unaffected by the water.

Why Use Biodegradable Packing Peanuts?

In addition to decomposing quickly, biodegradable packing peanuts are a better option for the environment, and us, compared to traditional packing peanuts.

The production of Styrofoam uses more energy and produces more greenhouse gases than the production of biodegradable materials. The production process can also expose workers to dangerous carcinogens during manufacturing.

Since the materials used to produce biodegradable packing peanuts are natural, they are nontoxic to humans, plants, animals, and the atmosphere.

In fact, biodegradable packing peanuts are safe if accidentally ingested by humans or animals. But they aren’t particularly tasty, so you won’t be tempted to snack on them.

Last but not least, biodegradable packing peanuts do not hold a static charge like Styrofoam does. This means the pellets won’t stick to you, your clothes, your surroundings, and the products they are used to protect.

Where to Find Biodegradable Packing Peanuts

When shopping for biodegradable packing peanuts, be sure to look for cost competitiveness, shipping availability, and product weight.

Protect your bottom line while offering customers a shipping option that protects the environment and their shipment.

On the quest to decrease your carbon footprint, shipping and packaging materials can be some of your greatest allies.

Whether it’s recyclable cardboard packaging or biodegradable packing peanuts, taking a close look at your packing, shipping, and recycling methods is a perfect first place to start making positive environment-focused changes.

And The Box Guy is here to help with all of your needs. Contact us today to learn more about our packaging and shipping supplies.