Is Bubble Wrap Recyclable?

Bubble wrap is functional and fun. Everyone from kids to adults has spent a few minutes popping the air-filled bubbles. The plastic wrap also does an impressive job of protecting breakable items from damage.

Stores and packing centers routinely use bubble wrap but what do you do with the protective plastic. Is bubble wrap recyclable or are you limited to only throwing it away?

Bubble wrap

Is Bubble Wrap Recyclable?

So, what do you do with bubble wraps after opening your package? Is bubble wrap recyclable? The answer is yes and no. You can recycle bubble wrap, but it might take a little effort.

Bubble wrap is a type of plastic resin, and the thin film is recyclable. The only problem is not all recycling centers have the technology necessary for sorting the plastic.

The plastic film can damage the facility’s machinery.

Before you toss bubble wrap in a recycling bin, check with your local recycler.

Bubble wrap

Can You Put Bubble Wrap in the Recycle Bin?

Curbside recycling is convenient. You place your recyclable paper, metal, and plastic items in bins and wait for the recycling company to pick up the containers.

Most local recycling organizations accept plastic film items like cups and sandwich baggies, but it doesn’t always include bubble wrap.

Even though bubble wraps is a plastic film, it also contains resins. Not all recyclers are equipped to handle this type of plastic. Don’t be surprised if your recycler doesn’t accept bubble wrap when it’s in a recycling bin.

Bubble wrap

How Do you Dispose of Bubble Wrap?

You don’t want to put bubble wraps in recycling bins. These are usually only for plastics with a number one or two ratings. Bubble wrap has a higher rating due to its complex recycling process.

It doesn’t mean your only option is to throw the bubble wrap away. There are eco-friendly ways to dispose of bubble wrap.

Some grocery stores accept bubble wrap in their public recycling bins. Another option is taking the bubble wrap to a UPS store. The packing and shipping company will send the bubble wrap out for recycling.

You can also mail your bubble wrap back to the manufacturer. The company Sealed Air operates plants in several states, including California, Illinois, Massachusetts, and Texas.

If they have a plant in your area, you can skip the mailing process. Otherwise, you are responsible for all shipping costs.

Bubble wrap

Can You Reuse Bubble Wrap?

Reusing bubble wraps is a great way to keep it out of landfills. The plastic wrap is not biodegradable and uses a complicated recycling process.

Use your old bubble wrap to protect breakable seasonal items in storage. It can also help keep your accessories in their original form. You can use it to wrap handbags, protecting the leather from dust and scratches.

It can also protect your shoes. Worried about your thigh-high boots losing their shape in summer storage? Stuffing them with bubble wrap ensures your boots look great next season.

Bubble wrap can even keep little ones occupied, popping the small air pockets. It’s also a good way to relieve daily stress. Don’t forget about moving. When it’s time to move to a new address, bubble wrap is an essential packing tool.

Bubble wrap

Why is Bubble Wrap Not Recyclable?

Some plastics are easy to recycle but not bubble wraps. It is a number four type of plastic and uses a different recycling process.

The category four rating indicates it’s made from low-density polyethylene (LDPE). The soft resins can clog recycling equipment creating hazardous working conditions at the plant.

Including bubble wraps with your number one and two plastics almost always ensures it ends up in a landfill. Bubble wrap will disintegrate over time, but it takes between 10 and 1,000 years.



Bubble wrap keeps your fragile items safe, and it’s also a fun toy. You can even relieve some stress, spending time popping the small air bubbles.

When it comes to the question, is bubble wrap recyclable, the answer is yes. However, it doesn’t mean you can use your curbside recycling bin. Bubble wrap is a number four plastic and doesn’t go in your recycling container.

Instead, drop your old bubble wrap off at a grocery store or UPS center. The plastic is returned to the manufacturer for recycling. You can also find a few uses for old bubble wrap at home and include it in your sustainable living plan.

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