Do you know what it would be like to swim in a sea of plastic?
Well, if people everywhere don't start using less plastic, such a scenario is not out of the question. An alarming prediction from the United Nations says that in 2050, there will be more plastic than fish in our oceans. Shouldn’t we reduce our use of plastic now?
If you’re a business owner or working in retail, one way to do this is by limiting or regulating the use of plastic in your packaging or shipping materials like bubble wrap.
Bubble wrap is a packaging material made of a plastic sheet covered with small air bubbles. Unfortunately, bubble wrap is commonly used to cushion an item for transport, especially with fragile items. You can find it used as liners in many bubble mailers.
So, with the popularity of online shopping and the convenience of using bubble mailers, how can you reduce our plastic use?
If you’re curious, this blog is for you. We’ve come up with a list of the best eco-friendly bubble mailers on the market, and we answer some questions about bubble mailers. Keep reading below.
What Are Bubble Mailers?
Bubble mailers are envelopes made of either plastic or paper and lined with a layer of bubble wrap on the inside. These packaging materials usually have a peel-off sticky strip at the tops, which makes them easy to seal.
Bubble mailers are available in a variety of sizes and are ideal for mailing small, light, fragile items that require extra protection during transit. Books, jewelry, and CDs are some examples of items that will fit nicely into these rectangular mailers.
While also commonly referred to as padded envelopes, not all padded envelopes are bubble mailers. Padded envelopes may have paper, foam, or bubble wrap as the interior.
Are Bubble Mailers Eco-Friendly?
To be considered eco-friendly, bubble mailers should be made of materials that are not harmful to the environment. This means they should be free of petroleum-based plastic, which takes hundreds of years to decompose and leach toxins during the process.
While bubble mailers are not entirely plastic-free. Their interior is still plastic-based. The manufacture of paper also requires tree cutting, which affects our natural landscape. Moreover, when not recycled, the paper ends up in landfills and produces methane during decomposition. Methane is a greenhouse gas that traps heat, thereby contributing to climate change. Under this context, bubble mailers can be charged guilty of being harmful to Mother Nature.
However, the good thing is there are now more sustainable packaging options such as eco-friendly bubble mailers. The difference lies in the materials used in their production. Eco-friendly bubble mailers are usually made of recycled paper materials and can be recyclable or reusable. These mailers can also be compostable, biodegradable, or both.
The Best Eco-Friendly Bubble Mailers
With many being aware of the plastic problem the world is facing, buyers and businesses alike, there are now a wide variety of sustainable, eco-friendly bubble mailers and bubble wrap alternatives on the market. Here are our top picks for the best eco-friendly bubble mailers you should try using.
Honeycomb mailers are surely an eco-friendly alternative to the usual bubble mailers. These materials are made from recycled paper and use honeycomb eco-wrap as padding. The honeycomb padding provides a layer of cushioning, and the recycled paper gives a rigid structure to the mailers. With both materials being paper, honeycomb mailers are 100% recyclable so you can put them in your curbside recycling bin.
Corrugated paper mailers
Instead of the bubble wrap lining, corrugated paper mailers or padded envelopes are made of paper inside and out. This makes them 100% recyclable and an eco-friendly mailer or packaging option. Their protective lining is made of corrugated paper, which offers strength and rigidity. When recycling these mailers, you don’t need to separate them or bring them to a plastic recycling point.
Corrugated paper millers are as good as bubble-lined mailers in terms of protecting items inside the envelopes. The corrugated flute, which is a fluted sheet sandwiched between two liners, functions as an air cushion, protecting items from impact during transit.
Biodegradable bubble mailers
Biodegradable bubble mailers are also made of recycled paper materials or renewable resources like corn or sugarcane. They will break down into water, biomass, and carbon dioxoide in landfills and biodegrade more quickly than petroleum-based plastics.1
One great example of this is our biodegradable mailer bags at Impack. These eco-friendly bubble mailers are typically lightweight just like their conventional counterparts. They are also resistant to moisture, water and tear. What’s even great about these materials is that they are stickable, printable, and writable.
Amazon's new padded mailers
Amazon’s recyclable paper padded mailers are made of paper and are curbside recyclable. They are puffy and lightweight. In lieu of the plastic bubbles, these eco-friendly bubble mailers feature a cushioning material that’s made from the components found in the glue used for making corrugated boxes. This cushion easily separates from the paper on the exterior.
Recycled padded mailers
Recycled padded mailers are often made from recycled materials like an upcycled newspaper matted and sandwiched between recycled Kraft paper sheets. This type is curbside recyclable and naturally biodegradable.
There is another type of recycled padded mailer that is produced from recycled plastics. These are also reusable and recyclable.
Are Bubble Mailers Biodegradable?
Whether bubble mailers are biodegradable largely depends on what materials they are made of. Most bubble mailers have paper on their exterior and bubble wrap on the inside.
While the paper is generally biodegradable, the bubble wrap part makes it difficult for mailers to break down within the soil. However, there are now mailers with interiors that are made of biodegradable polymers or bioplastics. These types are considered biodegradable, and some are even compostable.
Can You Recycle Bubble Mailers?
Yes, bubble mailers can be recycled. Paper envelopes and paper mailers are curbside recyclable if they are made of paper only. Plastic and poly mailers, as well as plastic Amazon envelopes, should be recycled with grocery bags or plastic films at drop-off sites accepting plastic films.
Mixed-materials packaging, including paper envelopes with bubble wrap interiors, are not recyclable. However, you can pull them apart and recycle them separately. Or, you can repurpose them as packing materials, cushions for fragile items, gift wrappers, or protective covers.