Are Packing Peanuts Recyclable?

Have you ever wondered if packing peanuts are recyclable?

Anyone that sends, receives, or purchases items probably deal with packing peanuts.

Almost everyone has opened a box to find it full of packing peanuts. The foam packing material protects breakable items, but what about its effect on the environment.

So what do you do with polystyrene foam packing peanuts? Here’s what you need to know.

Packing Peanuts

How Do You Dispose of Packing Peanuts?

Chances are, the packing peanuts protecting your breakable item are made from polystyrene foam. It’s a non-biodegradable material that often ends up in landfills.

You can toss the packing peanuts in the trash but there are more eco-friendly ways to dispose of packing peanuts.

One option is to take the packing peanuts to your local packing shipping location. Some cities also have recycling centers that accept foam packing material.

You can also mail the packing peanuts back to the manufacturer. You are responsible for shipping costs, but you are reducing your impact on the environment.

If you can’t find a recycling center, you can always save the foam peanuts and reuse them the next time you mail a package.

Packing Peanuts

Are Packing Peanuts Bad for the Environment?

Traditional packing peanuts made from polystyrene are bad for the environment. The synthetic material is not bio-degradable, but you have other options.

You might be stuck with foam peanuts ordering from some companies. Unfortunately, there’s not a lot you can do about the packing material they use.

Writing to the company and asking them to change to a more eco-friendly packing material can bring about changes.

It’s especially true if you get other customers involved with your campaign. Companies want to keep their customers happy and are willing to make some changes, but it does take time.

If the companies you order from won’t consider switching to sustainable packing peanuts, you can always consider taking your business to an eco-friendly organization.

recyclable packing peanuts

Are Amazon Packing Peanuts Recyclable?

Amazon Marketplace has almost anything you can think of for sale, often at great prices. But are their packing peanuts recyclable? The online marketplace works with eco-friendly vendors, so does it apply to their packing materials?

The answer is yes and no.

Amazon and its affiliates may use recycled packing peanuts. Your package may also come with brand-new polystyrene ones. Neither type of packing material is bio-degradable but recycled packing peanuts have less of an impact on the environment.

How do you know if Amazon packing peanuts are recycled? The shape and color are different from brand-new packing peanuts.

Non-recycled packing peanuts are white, with a distinctive nutlike shape. Recycled packing peanuts often have a less uniform shape with an off-white color.

You can also find plant-based packing peanuts, usually green or brown. These packing peanuts are recyclable and biodegradable.

Styro pack peanuts

How Do You Reuse Styrofoam Peanuts?

Whether you have new or recycled packing peanuts, you can still take steps to lessen their environmental impact.

The next time you mail a package, use your old packing peanuts to protect the item. If the receiver is also environmentally conscious, they will continue to reuse the Styrofoam peanuts with their packages.

You can also find creative ways to keep Styrofoam peanuts out of landfills.

Breaking the peanuts into smaller pieces turns them into stuffing for beanbag chairs.

Get the little ones involved and turn the packing material into festive decorations. You can find glitter and paint at any local hobby store.

Trying adding a layer of packing peanuts to a large indoor pot. You can save money on expensive potting soil, while also keeping the planter light enough to easily move.

You can even use packing peanuts to cover sharp, pointed ends on your garden and other tools.

Packing Peanuts

How Long Does it Take for Biodegradable Packing Peanuts to Decompose?

Polystyrene packing peanuts are not biodegradable. It can take 500 years or more for the synthetic material to decompose.

The same also applies to recycled packing peanuts.

Biodegradable packing peanuts will begin decomposing shortly after being discarded.

The process is not instantaneous, but it takes significantly less time for these packing peanuts to break down.



Packing peanuts serve a purpose. The small foam pieces protect glass, ceramic, electronics, and other delicate items from damage during shipping.

The packing material also negatively affects the environment, but you can take some preventative steps.

Try to use plant-based biodegradable packing peanuts whenever possible. These packing peanuts are recyclable. If you have non-biodegradable polystyrene peanuts, look for a facility that recycles the material.

You can also take some creative steps to keep the peanuts from going to the landfill.

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